Station Eleven

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Kirsten Raymonde Character Analysis

Kirsten is eight years old when the Georgia Flu strikes. A child actor, she witnesses the onstage death of Arthur Leander during a production of King Lear the night before the pandemic breaks out. The pandemic quickly kills her parents, and she then walks with her brother for the first horrible and chaotic year of the collapse. These events traumatize her and change her: she remembers nothing of the first year, and spends her free time after the collapse collecting tabloids in an attempt to remember Arthur and the world before the Flu. She is also constantly searching for any other copies of the “Dr. Eleven” comics, which she clings to as her most prized possessions. But the collapse does not change Kirsten’s profession or what she likes most about the world. After her brother also dies, Kirsten joins the Traveling Symphony, a theater troupe that travels among the small post-collapse settlements of the Great Lakes area and performs music and Shakespeare plays. The motto of the Symphony is extremely meaningful to her: “survival is insufficient.” She is thus a firm believer in the notion that humans, to be humans, must do more than just survive. For Kirsten, art is the best way to truly live instead of merely surviving. In the novel, Kirsten also wrestles with her fragmented memory of the old world, with the hope of civilization building back up, and with the terrors of the post-collapse world, a world of danger in which she has had to kill in order to survive even as she believes that survival alone is not enough.

Kirsten Raymonde Quotes in Station Eleven

The Station Eleven quotes below are all either spoken by Kirsten Raymonde or refer to Kirsten Raymonde . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Death and Survival Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Station Eleven published in 2015.
Chapter 8 Quotes

I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.

Related Characters: Dr. Eleven (speaker), Kirsten Raymonde , Miranda Carroll
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

This line is spoken by Dr. Eleven in one of Miranda’s “Station Eleven” comic books. In the image accompanying this line, Dr. Eleven stands beside his dog Luli, surveying the broken space station and trying to forget how sweet it was to live on Earth. Dr. Eleven’s memory of a pleasant Earth while being stuck aboard a broken world is a parallel for those living in the post collapse world with perfect memories of the world before the Georgia Flu. Part of surviving, or moving on, is trying to forget just how sweet the old life was in favor of embracing (or enduring) the circumstances of a new life.

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Chapter 11 Quotes

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.

Related Characters: Kirsten Raymonde
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

Mandel provides this short list of what was lost, even shorter than Chapter Six’s “an incomplete list,” during the Symphony’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in St. Deborah by the Water. Mandel emphasizes that even after the loss of civilization, of almost every human, the world is still filled with exceptional beauty. This surviving beauty, however, isn’t just natural beauty. It’s also the beauty that humanity and art are capable of creating, indicated by Mandel’s focus on Kirsten’s performance in the role of Titania. The Symphony’s goal is to remind people that such beauty still exists, even after the loss of almost everything else.

All three caravans of the Traveling Symphony are labeled as such, THE TRAVELING SYMPHONY lettered in white on both sides, but the lead caravan carries an additional line of text: Because survival is insufficient.

Related Characters: Kirsten Raymonde
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote provides the Symphony’s motto, later revealed as Kirsten’s favorite line of text in the English language: “survival is insufficient.” The line, lifted from an episode of Star Trek, speaks to the idea that, for humans, merely surviving isn’t satisfactory. It isn’t enough to just stay alive; we need to do something more to truly be human. For the actors of the Traveling Symphony, this “something more” is the performance of art, which enables the artists and viewers to experience culture, beauty, and pleasure even in the post-collapse world where much of one’s effort is put into the tasks of surviving and staying safe.

Chapter 18 Quotes

Some towns … want to talk about what happened, about the past. Other towns, discussion of the past is discouraged. We went to a place once where the children didn't know the world had ever been different, although you'd think all the rusted-out automobiles and telephones wires would give them a clue.

Related Characters: Kirsten Raymonde (speaker), François Diallo
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

These lines are excerpted from an interview that François Diallo conducted with Kirsten in the town of New Petoskey in Year Fifteen. Here, Kirsten discusses the difference among small towns relating to the way they educate their children about the past. Some towns, she says, want to talk about the past and civilization. They (like New Petoskey, which has a library) build a communal memory and tell their children the way the world once was. Other towns, however, opt not to tell their children that the word was ever different, even though there are physical monuments and imprints (countless obsolete relics of the past) that should indicate to the children that somehow the world has changed. Such a debate speaks to the novel’s exploration of memory as communal and both a blessing and a curse. It can be extremely painful to remember the past, but it also can give hope and provide understanding of the full scope of the human story.

Chapter 23 Quotes

"If you are the light, if your enemies are darkness, then there's nothing that you cannot justify. There's nothing you can't survive, because there's nothing that you will not do."

Related Characters: Kirsten Raymonde (speaker), Tyler Leander / The Prophet , August
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

Kirsten speaks these to August lines after the prophet has kidnapped Sayid and Dieter. In them, she unknowingly echoes the sentiment that Miranda expressed to the Prophet’s mother, Elizabeth Colton: bad people usually don’t think they’re bad, even if they are, as some sort of survival mechanism. Kirsten’s point is essentially that if the prophet believes that he is the light, that his enemies are the darkness, then there is nothing that he cannot justify to himself in order to further his ends and his survival, no matter how terrible (like marrying young girls or kidnapping and killing innocent actors) his actions might be. Such an argument expresses the novel’s critical exploration of blind or fanatical faith, which can easily turn dangerous and has the potential to be used in the justification of despicable acts.

Chapter 37 Quotes

I can't remember the year we spent on the road, and I think that means I can't remember the worst of it. But my point is, doesn't it seem to you that the people who have the hardest time in this—this current era, whatever you want to call it, the world after the Georgia Flu—doesn't it seem like the people who struggle the most with it are the people who remember the old world clearly?

Related Characters: Kirsten Raymonde (speaker), François Diallo
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

This is another excerpt from Kirsten’s interview with François in Year Fifteen. In this moment, she tells François that she remembers nothing from Year One, which, she believes, means that she can’t remember the worst part of the collapse. In this way, the novel explores the idea that forgetting can be a blessing. We can recall that the prophet claimed earlier to remember everything he ever saw on the road, which might be part of the reason he is so violent and delusional.

Kirsten also believes that those who remember the world before the Flu seem to have the hardest time adjusting to the new world. Memory, then, especially of civilization as it once was, can be a hindrance for moving forward. So while memory can be an escape during painful situations, remembering things we would rather not can be painful in its own right, further complicating the way that memory functions in the novel.

Chapter 38 Quotes

“Well, it's nice that at least the celebrity gossip survived.'"

Related Characters: Kirsten Raymonde (speaker), August
Related Symbols: Books
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:

Kirsten offers this line to August after ransacking an un-looted house. She discovers an old tabloid to add to her collection with a picture of Arthur and Miranda at the theatre at which Kirsten and Arthur performed King Lear at the beginning of the novel. This short joke of hers speaks to the question of what survives, particularly what art, as well as how are we remembered as people. Throughout the novel, Mandel shows that both high art and low art manage to survive the collapse, both on an intentional and a random basis. The gossip tabloids also show what endures of civilization in general. The survival of celebrity gossip can be seen as the preservation of the most trivial element of society. At the same time, Kirsten’s joke is ironic, since she collects the tabloids featuring Arthur for the personal value they have—they aren’t really worthless at all.

Chapter 45 Quotes

When it came down to it, François had realized, all of the Symphony's stories were the same, in two variations. Everyone else died, I walked, I found the Symphony. Or, I was very young when it happened, I was born after it happened, I have no memories or few memories of any other way of living, and I have been walking all my life.

Related Characters: Kirsten Raymonde , François Diallo
Page Number: 266
Explanation and Analysis:

These lines follow the end of François’ interview with Kirsten. At this time, he has also conducted interviews with most members of the Symphony as well. Through this process he has realized that the Symphony members’ stories all come in two forms: everyone died, I walked, I found the Symphony, or I remember basically nothing before the collapse, I have been walking with the Symphony all my life. These two stories represent the two generations in the Symphony and the way that one is required to pass on memories of life and civilization before the collapse on to the other. This also shows us that Kirsten’s experience of memory loss is not unique. Instead, it seems to be a common feature of her younger generation, those that were children at the time of the collapse. Of course, those born after the collapse represent a subgroup of this younger generation that has absolutely no memory of life before the collapse, since they were not even alive at the time.

Chapter 50 Quotes

She had once met an old man up near Kincardine who'd sworn that the murdered follow their killers to the grave, and she was thinking of this as they walked, the idea of dragging souls across the landscape like cans on a string. The way the archer had smiled, just at the end.

Related Characters: Kirsten Raymonde
Page Number: 297
Explanation and Analysis:

Kirsten thinks about killing after an altercation with the prophet’s men in which she was forced to kill an archer. She thinks about an old man who told her that the murdered follow their killers to their grave. This she imagines visually, as if she is dragging the soul of her latest kill across the ground on a string. The archer smiled in his final moments, Kirsten remembers, likely because he died in service of the prophet and his faith.

Killing is also what Kirsten thinks about when she wonders what has changed most in the world since the collapse. To her, being required to take a life in self-defense is one of the most painful aspects of survival, and something that was (for most) completely foreign during modern civilization. Those Kirsten has killed, in contrast to those that might have tried to kill her in Year One, are forever ingrained in her memory and on her flesh in the form of knife tattoos.

Chapter 51 Quotes

She stepped back. “It isn't possible,” she said.
“But there it is. Look again.”
In the distance, pinpricks of light arranged into a grid. There, plainly visible on the side of a hill some miles distant: a town, or a village, whose streets were lit up with electricity.

Related Characters: Kirsten Raymonde , Clark Thompson
Page Number: 311
Explanation and Analysis:

This exchange takes place in an air traffic control tower at Severn City Airport. The prophet is dead, and Kirsten has been reunited with Charlie and Jeremy. At the top of the tower, Clark has Kirsten look through a telescope into the distance, where she sees pinpoints of electric light, indicating that there is a town using electric streetlamps. Her first response is to suggest that it’s impossible, but the lights are real. Though the focus is on the light, Mandel’s insistence that civilization is essentially human means that this ending does not indicate a miraculous return of civilization and technology. Instead, it provides just a glimpse of hope, and shows that humanity is continuing to thrive, to survive, and, because survival is insufficient, to rebuild civilization and reincorporate technology into everyday life.

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Kirsten Raymonde Character Timeline in Station Eleven

The timeline below shows where the character Kirsten Raymonde appears in Station Eleven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...the lead role) stumbles around on stage with three young girls, one of whom is Kirsten Raymonde. Suddenly, Arthur fumbles his line and clutches his chest; he is having a heart... (full context)
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...ambulance to arrive. When the medics attempt (and fail) to save Arthur’s life, Jeevan comforts Kirsten and attempts to distract her from Arthur’s death. The two then start to look for... (full context)
Chapter 2
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In the dressing room, Tanya gives Kirsten a paperweight and tries to contact the young girl’s parents. Back in the lobby, the... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...the park reflecting on his career, his brother Frank, and his strange interaction with young Kirsten. Suddenly, he receives a tense call from his friend Hua, a doctor at Toronto General.... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...the Traveling Symphony walks and caravans near Lake Michigan while practicing lines for King Lear. Kirsten, now a member of the company, carries a paperback book version of the play and... (full context)
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Kirsten reflects on August’s habit of staring longingly at televisions when they break into houses; he... (full context)
Chapter 8
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This short chapter describes the comic books given to Kirsten by Arthur. They are called “Dr. Eleven, Vol. I, No.1: Station Eleven” and “Dr. Eleven,... (full context)
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...high quality, most likely produced on a small scale, and created by someone named “M.C.” Kirsten cares for the comics and obsesses over them, as they are her prized possessions. (full context)
Chapter 9
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...the small town seems too depressing for a production of King Lear. While they rehearse, Kirsten reflects that the town is creepy and seems changed since the last time they visited.... (full context)
Chapter 10
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After these reflections, Kirsten decides to take a walk and look for Charlie, since the two were close friends.... (full context)
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Instead, Kirsten meets strangers, along with Maria, whom she recognizes as the local midwife. Maria tells Kirsten... (full context)
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As if the town weren’t already strange enough, as Kirsten leaves the Wendy’s she notices that a young girl has been following her. As Kirsten... (full context)
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...management,” after which some twenty families left the town, including Charlie and the sixth guitar. Kirsten informs the Symphony that she learned there is a prophet in the town. Under the... (full context)
Chapter 11
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During the performance, the audience is silent and attentive. While Kirsten and Sayid play out the scene they rehearsed when they first arrived at St. Debora... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...conductor asks about the grave markers, the prophet asks how long the Symphony and specifically Kirsten have been on the road. Kirsten responds that she walked for all of Year One,... (full context)
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...cannot risk looking like they are kidnapping someone. Outside of the town, the conductor tells Kirsten what the prophet whispered to her before: he asked if they would leave behind Alexandra,... (full context)
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...hope to expand their territory and find Charlie and the sixth guitar. With this decided, Kirsten climbs on a caravan to rest and to go through her clippings which, along with... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...with a scene depicted in one of the tabloid photos that will wind up in Kirsten’s collection after the collapse. The scene takes place fourteen years before the collapse, in a... (full context)
Chapter 16
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This short chapter is an excerpt of a transcript of an interview of Kirsten conducted by François Diallo in Year Fifteen. They talk about how exciting it is that... (full context)
Chapter 18
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In another excerpt from Kirsten’s interview in Year Fifteen, François asks about Kirsten’s origins as an actress. Kirsten says that... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...“survival is insufficient,” would be more profound if it weren’t taken from Star Trek. But Kirsten, who has this line tattooed on her left forearm, disagrees. She also has two black... (full context)
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...out scouts ahead and behind to see if the prophet has sent men after them. Kirsten thinks back on her childhood, and then tries to explain air conditioning to Alexandra while... (full context)
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...and moved into the gas station. His group had a large arsenal of weapons. Finally, Kirsten asks Eleanor if she know why the prophet’s dog is named Luli, but Eleanor doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...They carefully make a camp and dinner. When scouts report of a school up ahead, Kirsten, August, Jackson, and the viola go to the school in hope of finding instruments or... (full context)
Chapter 21
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In a tiny interview excerpt, François asks Kirsten about the black knives tattooed on her wrist. Kirsten responds that François knows better than... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Kirsten thinks of how much the world has changed in her lifetime, which makes her think... (full context)
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In their tent, Dieter whispers to Kirsten that the night before he dreamed he saw an airplane. Kirsten does not remember airplanes... (full context)
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After this conversation about airplanes, Kirsten and Dieter take their turn as second watch. Dieter and Sayid scout the road behind... (full context)
Chapter 23
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After more travel, Kirsten says to August that she thinks Sayid and Dieter have been taken. She can’t stop... (full context)
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Since they are both terrified, August writes Kirsten a small poem to comfort her. As the Symphony moves onward, fallen trees block them.... (full context)
Chapter 24
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As they walk on their second say without the Symphony, Kirsten and August come across a gas station. They look around and a dog barks, and... (full context)
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There, Kirsten sees two redheaded twins, whom she recognizes from the last time the Symphony passed through... (full context)
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When Kirsten asks Finn if they’ve met before, since she recognizes him from St. Deborah by the... (full context)
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As Kirsten and August walk onward, they discuss the Symphony’s absence and Finn’s scar, which is the... (full context)
Chapter 31
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This chapter is another excerpt from François Diallo’s interview of Kirsten. Kirsten says that the night of the collapse, she was in Toronto in a production... (full context)
Chapter 33
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In the interview with François, Kirsten asks if he still has the obituary, which was in the second-to-last edition of the... (full context)
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Kirsten says that what happened next she doesn’t remember, but knows because her brother Peter told... (full context)
Chapter 35
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In the interview, Kirsten talks about the last days before she left Toronto. She stayed in the basement watching... (full context)
Chapter 37
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In the interview, Kirsten says that she remembers absolutely nothing of the first year after the collapse. She has... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Back in Year Twenty, Kirsten and August leave the house they found. Kirsten can barely comprehend the idea of living... (full context)
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As she looks through the magazines, Kirsten discovers a photo of Miranda Carroll visiting the production of King Lear in Toronto. Kirsten... (full context)
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...they have boarded Station Eleven. They also imagine worse universes, for example a universe where Kirsten remembered her first year on the road and what caused the scar on her face.... (full context)
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When the conversation turns to Sayid and Dieter, Kirsten and August get moving again. They are close to Severn City now, but they decide... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...On the way in to the theatre, she’s noticed by the paparazzi, and the photo Kirsten discovers in the tabloid in Chapter 38 is taken. (full context)
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At this point in the conversation, a young Kirsten enters the dressing room with her coloring book. Miranda is introduced to Kirsten and reflects... (full context)
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While Arthur flips through the comics, Kirsten colors in her coloring book. Kirsten fears that she has messed up coloring the princess’s... (full context)
Chapter 44
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...King Lear by something called The Traveling Symphony and an interview by François Diallo of Kirsten Raymonde. In the interview, Clark reads Kirsten’s retelling of Arthur’s death, and becomes shocked to... (full context)
Chapter 45
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At the end of the interview in Year Fifteen, Kirsten and François have an off-the-record conversation sparked by the question, “When you think of how... (full context)
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After Kirsten gives the answer of killing to François’ question, she turns the question back on him.... (full context)
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As Kirsten looks around the library, François asks her how she got her scar, to which she... (full context)
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As Kirsten gets up to leave, François notes the knife handles gleaming in her belt. This small... (full context)
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Before she goes, François asks Kirsten why she didn’t want the last part of the interview recorded, as he has heard... (full context)
Chapter 48
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Three days after Kirsten and August are separated from the Symphony, Kirsten wakes up from a nightmare. The pair... (full context)
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...man carries a gun, and the other wields a bow and arrow. August whispers to Kirsten, “I have the gunman, get the archer,” and he throws a rock into the air.... (full context)
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After the violence, August and Kirsten run to Sayid. He tells them that the prophet is behind them with the dog... (full context)
Chapter 49
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...tell the Symphony to change their route. They leave immediately, and are unable to locate Kirsten and August, who are at this point off fishing by the golf course. (full context)
Chapter 50
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We learn that the first knife tattoo on Kirsten’s wrist marks a man who came at her in her first year with the Symphony,... (full context)
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The second knife tattoo was for a man who Kirsten killed two years later. The Symphony encountered four men, two with guns and two with... (full context)
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Kirsten had hoped before killing the archer in Year Twenty that she wouldn’t have to kill... (full context)
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Kirsten, August, and Sayid continue to walk in silence, wondering where the prophet is. As they... (full context)
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...with a machete, now wielding a handgun, all approach with the dog, Luli. Luli smells Kirsten, August, and Sayid, and soon the man with the crossbow sees them. Kirsten doesn’t know... (full context)
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Kirsten stands and drops the knife, knowing it’s unlikely she would be able to reach a... (full context)
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While the prophet’s rifle is an inch from her forehead, Kirsten knows what August must be thinking. If he reveals himself to fire arrows, the three... (full context)
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...prophet in the head. In the instant after, August kills the other two men, while Kirsten and the boy stare at the prophet. Though she tries to stop him, the boy... (full context)
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...August discovers a page from “Station Eleven” in the copy of the prophet’s New Testament. Kirsten wonders who he was and how he came to be the prophet, wondering if maybe... (full context)
Chapter 51
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When Sayid, August, and Kirsten walk away from the bodies, the prophet’s dog follows them. They stop to rest and... (full context)
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There are 320 people living in the airport, making it one of the largest settlements Kirsten has seen. August takes Sayid to the infirmary, and Kirsten lies down in Charlie’s tent.... (full context)
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That night, August, Charlie, and the sixth guitar play music, during which Kirsten’s thoughts drift between the friends she’s lost, the people she’s killed, and the strange coincidence... (full context)
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Later, she meets Clark Thompson, who recognizes her as Kirsten Raymond. They have apparently been introduced before. Clark says he knows Kirsten is tired, but... (full context)
Chapter 52
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Kirsten stares through the telescope at the town with electric light, while Charlie and August make... (full context)
Chapter 53
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...her the glass paperweight. She thanks him, and tells him to let her know if Kirsten shows up in his dressing room. Within fifteen minutes, Kirsten does arrive to tell Arthur... (full context)
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...and gets ready for the play to begin. Later, just before he takes the stage, Kirsten tells him that she read the beginning of the comic books and that she loves... (full context)
Chapter 55
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The Traveling Symphony leaves the airport after a five-week stay of performing and resting. Kirsten has given one of her “Dr. Eleven” comics books to Clark to keep in the... (full context)