This week I have furthered my knowledge in apocalyptic literature by reading the novel Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. In this blog, I will address the theme of fear and the comparison of the Georgia Flu to the COVID-19 virus we deal with today in our world. Mandel explores the theme of fear through many outlets such as the ways the characters handle the initial outbreak of the Georgia Flu, how the world handles the infected, and how the characters adapt to surviving. In the initial outbreak of the Georgia Flu we see people exit the city in such a fast and massive way that it clogs up the roadways and main exits out. People show the fear they have with potentially catching the virus and the anxiety it can cause them. For example, we see how fear can lead to anxiety with the character Jeevan in this story. When Jeevan is talking to Hua on the phone and learning about the initial outbreak of the Georgia Flu, Hua says “I know how paranoid you can get.” (19). The book explores the idea of how people can develop terrible levels of anxiety from an pandemic and the powerful influence it can have over their actions. How the people can act towards the infected is explored in this novel as well. In the book at the Severn City Airport, Clark talks about the Air Gradia 452 flight and how everyone had decided to “keep the jet sealed rather than expose a packed airport to a fatal contagion.” (249) Fear of the virus and death showed why the characters in this book made an unspeakable decision in order to survive. This example explored how humans can make some of the most radical decisions when faced with fear and survival. Also, we see how characters like Tyler use fear to create a cult in order to survive and gain power. Tyler, or the prophet, uses the fear of individuals and convinces them that their survival was for a greater purpose and reason. He then uses his followers to gain power and take over towns. This use of the theme of fear shows how the absence of hope in that fear can lead people to wanting a greater purpose and reason to survive. Do you think fear has been used as tactic in our country to attempt to control the behavior of individuals during our COVID-19 pandemic?
The Georgia Flu in Station Eleven and the COVID-19 pandemic in our world today have some connections in the way they have affected the world. The first connection I saw was the increase in anxiety among the characters in Station Eleven and the adults in our country. In the book, there was fear created by the Georgia Flu and the anxiety that came along with it because of the fatality rate. Found on this website, https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/ , it talks about how four in ten adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic and this has increased from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019. These symptoms have been increasing in our country due to the stress over coronavirus coupled with the negative economic and health effects that have been caused by it. Also, I thought it was interesting how Station Eleven addressed people with disabilities during a pandemic. In the novel Clark has a brother named Frank that is disabled and he eventually takes his own life because he knows he will hold Clark back from being able to survive outside of the apartment. The additional difficulties that come along with being disabled during a pandemic have been discussed on this website, https://www.un.org/development/desa/dspd/everyone-included-covid-19.html. In this website it mentions how people with disabilities in the world today cannot practice safe social distancing or isolation guidelines as easily as others because they need help and support from other people for every day self-care tasks. This shows people with disabilities can be disadvantaged in staying healthy and surviving throughout a pandemic.
Source for Image: https://www.wired.com/story/first-denial-then-fear-covid-19-patients-in-their-own-words/