Station Eleven

by Emily St. John Mandel

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Chapters 1–6 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on January 20, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 927

Chapter 1

In a Toronto theater, Arthur Leander becomes ill in the middle of a performance of King Lear. Jeevan, a trainee paramedic in the audience, dashes to the stage as Arthur loses consciousness; Jeevan then performs CPR. A cardiologist, Walter Jacobi, joins him, and an ambulance is called. When the medics arrive, Jeevan tries to find his girlfriend, Laura, but first encounters Kirsten Raymonde, a child actress who doesn't now know what to do or where to go.

Arthur dies onstage and is strapped to a gurney and wheeled away. Jeevan tries to protect Kirsten until Tanya, her handler, finds her. When he exits to the lobby, Laura's coat is gone from the lounge. The paparazzi outside have been told Arthur has passed out from exhaustion and dehydration.

Jeevan decides to walk home to Cabbagetown. He suddenly becomes jubilantly convinced that he wants to become a paramedic, although he is aware that his romantic evening with Laura is over when she texts asking him to buy milk. He decides to go to a park.

Chapter 2

At the theatre, the remaining actors and makeup artists are discussing Arthur and his family. Arthur had a son, who lives with his mother in Jerusalem, and several ex-wives. He had been having an affair with Tanya, who is waiting with Kirsten in the dressing room. The producer decides he had better call Arthur's lawyer.

Meanwhile, Tanya is trying to reach Kirsten's parents as the people at the bar drink to Arthur.

Three weeks later, everyone in the bar will be dead. The bartender lasts longest.

Chapter 3

Jeevan walks alone in Allan Gardens, wanting to talk to his brother, Frank, about the evening. He decides to take a streetcar to Frank's apartment. His phone rings, but it isn't Laura, but his best friend, Hua, who works at Toronto General Hospital. Hua tells him he had, first, thirteen unrelated patients in the ICU with "Georgia Flu." They had all been on the same flight. Then another patient arrived, an airport employee. Now there are over two hundred flu patients, fifteen of whom have died.

Jeevan, feeling paranoid, gets off the streetcar and begins walking, worried about Hua. Hua says Jeevan should leave the city. He believes the flu to be an epidemic and that if Jeevan can't leave, he should shelter in place. Jeevan decides to continue to Frank's, after stopping at the supermarket to stock up on supplies.

He calls Laura, who wants to know where he is. Jeevan tells her and says that she needs to leave the city; he’ll stay with Frank. He tells Laura to watch the news and tells the checkout girl to leave the city, too. With his vast amount of shopping, he then proceeds to Frank’s apartment.

Chapter 4

The theater is now empty except for the executive producer, who calls Arthur's lawyer to explain what has happened. The lawyer reviews Arthur's will and calls Arthur's best friend, who then begins calling Arthur's ex-wives.

Chapter 5

Miranda, an executive at a shipping company, is in Malaysia, having been sent there to "observe conditions on the ground." She feels inexplicably lonely until her phone rings and a British man on the other end introduces himself as Clark Thompson, Arthur's friend. He tells her that Arthur died onstage the previous night of a heart attack.

Soon after this, it will no longer be possible to call a person on the far side of the globe.

Chapter 6

There are many things that are no longer part of life after the flu. These include diving into pools of chlorinated water; ball games played under floodlights; underground railways under cities; cities themselves; films; phone screens; concert stages; pharmaceuticals; and flight. Airplanes stand dormant in their hangars, which are soon used to store food, or fruit at harvest time. There are no more fire departments or police, road maintenance, or spacecraft. There is no more Internet—no more connecting with others online and feeling slightly less alone.


The opening six chapters of the novel establish the world in which readers are about to immerse themselves. The first image presented is a commonplace one: readers, through Jeevan's eyes, see a theater and a play being performed. Yet the familiarity of the setting is swiftly stripped away. Along with Jeevan, the reader experiences a sudden change—the death of Arthur Leander—which presages a series of other unexpected events that will occur with equal swiftness.

Jeevan is established here as the viewpoint character for the outbreak of Georgia Flu, the person with whom readers identify and with whom they experience the pandemic as it first spreads. The escalation in this opening section is fast-paced, mimicking the pace of the pandemic itself. By the end of the third chapter, readers know how large-scale the flu really is and how many people will soon be dead. The author first depicts a familiar world—a world of theaters, of lawyers, of international travel—and then ruthlessly demonstrates how quickly that world can be eroded. The final chapter of this section is presented in list format: ruthlessly, again, familiar elements of modern life are struck off as impossibilities in the post-pandemic world. The final item on the list, the Internet and the possibilities it allows for international connection, is particularly resonant and important. In a world without the Internet, news cannot travel as it once did; people can no longer communicate with those who, like Miranda, are across the world from their loved ones. In these opening chapters, the new world order is quickly and starkly established.

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Chapters 7–12 Summary and Analysis