Back in Year Twenty, the Symphony argues to distract themselves from their fear of the prophet and his men. Dieter says that the Symphony’s motto, “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 knives tattooed on the back of her right wrist. She tells Dieter that the line is her favorite line of text in the world. August remembers the TV episode that featured the line fondly.
Here we briefly see conversation and argument as a means of escape, survival, and coping. The subject of the discussion is a debate on high art versus low art. Though Dieter says the Symphony’s motto would have more value if taken from another source, the idea that value and meaning can come from all levels of art parallels the notion that what survives isn’t only Shakespeare—it’s also gossip magazines and self-published comic books. Art has value because of the value that people find in it—and people don’t only find value in high art or cherished masterpieces.
The Symphony soon stops to rest, and the conductor sends 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 camp is set up. During the preparations, the first cello discovers a stowaway: the girl who was following Kirsten back in St. Deborah by the Water.
Alexandra relies on the memories of others, a communal memory, to understand the civilization of the past. People like Kirsten, who struggles to remember, and older Symphony members with memories that are fully intact build this communal memory.
The little girl, named Eleanor, explains that she left because her parents are dead and she is promised to be the prophet’s next wife. She is twelve years old. She tells the Symphony that the prophet claimed to have a dream instructing him to repopulate the earth. She also tells them that Charlie and the sixth guitar have headed to the Museum of Civilization.
The young stowaway has taken action to save her own life, but by doing so has put the Symphony at risk, since it will appear that they have kidnapped her. The prophet’s dreams and faith are filled with ideals for saving the world and rebuilding civilization, but they are also self-serving, misogynistic, and borderline pedophilic.
Over dinner, Eleanor tells the Symphony what she knows about the prophet. He is from the Museum of Civilization. He apparently came to St. Deborah by the Water, announced himself as a messenger of God, and took over the town. He married the mayor’s wife after the mayor died 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 know.
Coincidentally or not, the prophet comes from the same place that the Symphony is now headed. His stockpile of weapons gives him immense power in the lawless post-collapse civilization. Kirsten has recognized the strange connection between the prophet and Station Eleven because of the dog’s name, but doesn’t yet fully understand it.