Station Eleven Station Eleven discussion

"Survival is not enough"

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Emma Lincoln What did you think of the quote "Survival is not enough". What point do you think the author was trying to get across in this quote. Do you think this was the overall theme of this book or was it something else?

Susan I believe that what is meant by this is that culture should prevail, not just physical existence. The plays of Shakespeare and classical music are not necessary for survival of the body, but it is for the soul. Some sort of music, painting and performance art and,therefore, beauty, has been created in every society since the cave men, and now the survivors flock to it in the form of traveling performers, and a museum and historical record of the past is being created at the airport.

Emma Lincoln Susan wrote: "The plays of Shakespeare and classical music are not necessary for survival of the body, but it is for the soul. "

I love this thought. I never really thought of it like that. I was more thinking about the resentment that Arthur felt about his life and that it got wiped out so that everyone could "start again". But I welcome your thought process- thanks!

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Susan wrote: "I believe that what is meant by this is that culture should prevail, not just physical existence. The plays of Shakespeare and classical music are not necessary for survival of the body, but it is..."

Susan, this is beautiful. Yes, it's more than the music or the plays themselves, it's the inexpressible in the human spirit that matters.

message 5: by Anita (new) - added it

Anita I agree with what others have said. Personally, I think one can survive fairly easily, but that is not always enough. It is more important, imho, to thrive, which I believe takes what Susan is talking about.

I do believe that is the theme of this book, as well, as the need for community. When we meet the people who are "surviving" alone, they are very different than the people who are "surviving" with others. While poetry, art, music, etc., are needed for survival, so is humanity, which comes from community.

Emma Lincoln I agree Anita, thrive is a great verb to use! It kind of put a whole new perspective on the book ( I almost want to go read it again!) Its funny how differently a book can affect people!

I agree that the sense of community was important too. Arthur felt at home in Toronto because "no one knew who he was" at first and I think the author thought that was sad way to live. Washed up in a big city with no one to really connect and reach out to. I liked that she re-created towns in a basic fashion.

If the overall theme was "Survival is not enough", where do you think the Prophet fit into that theme. Was he an additional story line or does his message fit somehow?

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Anita Emma, I'm not a believer, but don't the majority seem to "need" a higher power to thrive? For those people, the prophet fits in perfectly, doesn't he? Sadly, this prophet seems to be a "false" one. But as we all know, those types have followers.

message 8: by Ron (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ron Isn't the Prophet an antithesis of a new start? He symbolizes what could destroy this rebuilding of community and the positive things carried from the past. Ironically, a prophet is supposed show the right way, but this one is instead a division.

This is one book that I would read again. There is a lot to consider in this book, and each of you have proven that in your answers above. I was left wondering what the graphic novel in the book represents. The hero in the graphic novel seems like an anti-hero.

Emma Lincoln But I wonder Anita, why the author chose to make this prophet a "bad one". I think about the addition of the prophet a lot because it seems that it doesn't add much to the story for me, yet at the same time seems a pivotal character.

On the one hand, I agree that he symbolizes a "higher power" that some people need and that sometimes even that higher power fails us

But on the other, I wondered if maybe it was more like what Ron said in that he was nothing more than a character to create conflict in the story. Showing a different point of view on how fragile their new lives were.

To Ron- I agree that since there was so much going on, with so much to gain and learn that this book would be a great re-read. The graphic novel to me was a lot of foreshadowing (obvious I believe) but also I think it was showing that sometimes, people create a different world than the one they are in when they are unhappy and that sometimes living in that world can seem wonderful at the time, but if you were forced to actually live in that fantasy that it wouldn't be all it was cracked up to be.

message 10: by Ron (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ron Totally agree on the foreshadowing point Emma. I am probably looking too deeply into that graphic novel.
What I like most about Station Eleven is how the author tied the characters together by a thread throughout the story.

message 11: by Emma (new) - rated it 3 stars

Emma Lincoln yes Ron, I agree. I also loved how the story wasn't even really about the characters. Each had their own story and own battle, but I felt like the story was the disaster that happened. That it was really about lifestyles lost and what happened "after" more than about the characters and their lives. it was more focused on what the disaster did to the characters!

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Anita How many "proclaimed "prophets" are good? Yet they are followed, because they are "needed." I guess the author thinks like I do. lol. As I said, I am not a big believer.

Susan Thank you to those who agreed with me above about culture being important. Thinking about the prophet, I was rather annoyed when his character was introduced because I thought the prophet distracted from the story the author was telling about the rebuilding of society. But every society usually has religion as the basis of their culture -- most art, music, literature and performance art begins with and grows out of their need to worship and explain whatever or whoever they see as their gods. The prophet did not grow out of the culture, the people did not raise him up and follow him. He imposed himself and his followers on the people by fear. I think that rather than representing religion, the prophet represents any person who tries to take over by force. And, the people did not rise up and get rid of him, it was just this little group of wanderers who fought back because he was threatening him. I think this society is too young yet, and those who remember their former lives are too sophisticated, to form a religion. They need several generations of forgetting, and then time to realize what force drives them before they can create a religion for themselves. (And then there will be centuries for others to corrupt it.)

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