False Idol, False Hope

In Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station Eleven, a pandemic quickly kills most of the earth’s population. In the aftermath, a young man, Tyler Leander, is raised to believe that the pandemic happened to purge the earth, and he declares himself “The Prophet,” a savior for the people who remain. As the character Kirsten says of him, “If you are the light, if your enemies are darkness, then there’s nothing that you cannot justify. There’s nothing you can’t survive, because there’s nothing that you will not do” (Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven [New York: Knopf, 2014], 139). When any person imagines themselves a god, the risk of manipulation and disappointment are real.