Station Eleven


Emily S. J. Mandel

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Themes and Colors
Death and Survival Theme Icon
Faith and Fate Theme Icon
Civilization Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Art Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Station Eleven, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Death and Survival

Station Eleven begins with the death of Arthur Leander from a heart attack, and then quickly moves to portray a world in which 99 percent of the population has died from a global flu pandemic. In this way, the novel explores death both on a personal and global scale. On a personal level, the primary characters of the novel are all connected to Arthur in some way. His on-stage death affects them all, whether because…

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Faith and Fate

Station Eleven shows how, in the face of peril and struggles, many people turn to faith. In the novel, Mandel portrays faith as offering many of the same values of art: it provides purpose and community, and injects continuity and permanence into a terrifying, changing world. Further, faith is rooted in the idea that everything happens for a reason. In the face of a pandemic that decimated the Earth and left only a few survivors…

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Station Eleven is a story about the collapse of modern civilization, but it also explores just what civilization is. By telling the story of the collapse and including depictions of life both before and after it, Mandel is able to explore civilization through different lenses. Before the collapse, civilization is presented as mundane and at times stifling, or even as misguided and problematic. Arthur and Miranda’s transition from their small native island to larger…

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With its plot set both before and after the Georgia Flu pandemic, Station Eleven depicts both pre-collapse civilization as it was and that same civilization as it is remembered by characters who have survived. Through these characters, and the different way they experience and respond to their memories, the novel engages in a nuanced exploration of memory itself. Through Kirsten alone, for instance, the novel shows how memory can be a comfort and source of…

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In contrast to modern technological civilization, which Station Eleven portrays as fragile, the novel presents art as something that endures. The first scene of the book (which takes place on the evening of the collapse) and the first scene after the collapse both feature Shakespeare’s famous play King Lear (one a performance, the other a rehearsal). The message is clear: even after the collapse of civilization and the death of billions, art remains. Art is…

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