Chapter 48

Three days after being separated from the Symphony, Kirsten wakes up from a bad dream and August comforts her. The two wash up and cut each other’s hair. They see a sign for the Severn City airport with an arrow pointing toward the center of town. When a deer jumps into view at the end of the street, Kirsten and August take cover. They know that something or someone has spooked the deer. 

A gaunt, dirty, and injured man stumbles into view. It takes a moment for Kirsten to realize that he is Sayid. Three people are following him: a boy armed with a machete and two men, one armed with a shotgun and the other with a bow. August throws a rock to distract them and then fires an arrow at the man with the shotgun. Kirsten throws a knife into the chest of the man holding the bow. The boy with the machete runs away while Kirsten and August run to Sayid.

Sayid tells them that the Prophet is nearby with his dog and two more men. Kirsten and August interrogate the man who Kirsten hit with the knife. Before he dies, he tells them that because the Traveling Symphony took Eleanor—the young girl who was supposed to be the Prophet’s bride—they upset the Prophet who felt his property was stolen. The man then talks in religious phrases until Kirsten violently pulls her knife from his chest. She has now killed three people.

Sayid explains that he and Dieter were ambushed and knocked out with chloroform or some similar chemical. Dieter never woke up. The Prophet’s men had planned to trade Dieter and Sayid for Eleanor so the Prophet could have his bride back. After Dieter died, the men argued. Two of them left and returned with Sidney, the clarinet player from the Symphony whom they had also kidnapped.

Chapter 49

Sidney (the clarinet player from the Symphony) wakes up in a clearing feeling sick. Her hands and ankles are bound. She can hear men talking and recognizes the voice of the Prophet. She can see Sayid, who mouths to her that the road is to the east and she should turn left when she reaches it. The Prophet says that he knows the route that the Symphony will take and tells his men to split in two teams. 

Later that night, Sayid talks to the youngest of the men, a teenager holding a machete. The teenager admits to Sayid that he has done terrible things for the Prophet. The Prophet’s men are trained to move silently, which is how they’ve stolen wives for the Prophet and disarmed towns by taking their weapons. Sidney works free from her bindings while Sayid continues to question the boy about the Prophet’s ways. Sidney escapes and reaches the Symphony. She tells them that they need to alter their route. Due to heavy rain, the Symphony is unable to tell Kirsten and August that the route has changed, resulting in their separation.

Chapter 50

Kirsten thinks back to the two other men that she has killed. One tried to attack her when she was 15. The other was with a group of bandits that tried to rob the Traveling Symphony. She realizes that August had never killed anyone before that day, and she thinks about how the act of killing will haunt him. As Kirsten, August, and Sayid walk among the abandoned cars, Kirsten imagines what it must have been like for all the people fleeing during the collapse. When she hears a dog bark in the distance, the three hide beside the road.

The Prophet, two henchmen, and the teenage boy who talked to Sayid approach. When the Prophet’s dog locates Kirsten, she surrenders. The Prophet asks her where her friends are, and she answers that she doesn’t know where the Symphony is, and that the other two have died. She knows that August will be killed if he tries to save her. The teenage boy stands behind the Prophet, crying. His machete is on his back and he is holding a handgun. 

The Prophet quotes a line from the first issue of Dr. Eleven. Kirsten quotes the next few lines, but the Prophet does not seem to notice. The Prophet aims his rifle at Kirsten, but the teenage boy shoots the Prophet in the head from behind. August kills the other two men with arrows. Kirsten looks at the teenage boy. She recognizes him as the sentry from St. Deborah by the Water. Before she can stop him, the teenage boy puts his gun in his mouth and kills himself.

Scouts from the Symphony arrive on horseback. The Prophet’s copy of the New Testament is recovered; the margins are full of the Prophet’s notes. It has a single page from the first issue of Dr. Eleven. Looking at his body, Kirsten recognizes that the Prophet was close to her age. She wonders if he, unlike her, remembered all the days after the collapse. She puts the folded page of Dr. Eleven in his hand.

Chapter 51

Kirsten, August, and Sayid walk to the Severn City Airport. Luli, the Prophet’s dog, follows Kirsten. Sentries whistle a signal as the three approach. One of the sentries is Charlie; she runs out to greet them. 

In Charlie and Jeremy’s tent, Kirsten talks about Dieter. She asks if someone can give her another dagger tattoo. August, Charlie, and Jeremy play music for the people in the airport. Kirsten thinks about Dieter and the Prophet. During the performance, Clark asks Kirsten if he can show her something, and she follows him to the air traffic control tower. Clark mentions that he read her interview in the New Petoskey newspaper years before and tells her that, tomorrow, he wants to show her the Museum. They walk up the nine flights of stairs inside the tower, Clark stopping to rest at each landing. Once at the top, Clark directs Kirsten to look into a telescope. Kirsten sees a distant town whose streets are lit by electricity.

Chapter 52

Jeevan bakes bread in McKinley. He calls to his son, Frank, to see if Daria is hungry. Daria is taking care of their second child.

Far to the north, the caravans of the Traveling Symphony reach the Severn City Airport.


In this section, Mandel further explores the juxtaposition between violence and art. This culminates in the face-off between Kirsten and the prophet. One of Kirsten’s last thoughts when she thinks she’s going to die is how deeply she loves the Symphony. Part of why she is unafraid to face down death is the love, community, and artistry she found there. When the prophet begins to recite a sort of eulogy before he shoots Kirsten, she recognizes elements of Station Eleven. It is her knowledge of the graphic novel and her deep understanding of its significance that allows her to recite the text. Though it’s unclear whether the prophet recognizes what she’s doing, it seems to bring about an unlikely moment of connection in the midst of violence. In some ways, Tyler and Kirsten are like siblings—they both grew up in the universe of Station Eleven. It is likely that they are the only two people on Earth who truly understand the fictional world that parallels their own. It’s this connection that gives Kirsten enough time to survive the encounter. Similarly, when Kirsten remembers one of the people she killed, she also remembers going on after the killing to perform Romeo and Juliet. In this way, Mandel shows that art can disrupt violence and provide solace in its aftermath.

This section emphasizes exactly how haunted Kirsten is by the old world. She is staggered by how many ghosts there would be in the new world given how much loss everyone has suffered. She feels haunted by the ghosts of those whose lives she’s taken, and she describes them as following her around the Earth as long as she lives. This sense of haunting persists after her encounter with the prophet. Kirsten remains unclear about how her life and the prophet's life were connected. This complicated sense of grief and uncertainty has been with Kirsten at other points throughout the novel. She is also haunted by past versions of herself that she may never fully understand. The gap in her memory during the first year after the collapse provides comfort but also makes her uneasy. She will never truly know what she did to survive. She is also haunted by who she was before the pandemic. Because Arthur is part of the last memory she has of herself before, she searches the rubble of the world for evidence of who he was. This is just as much a way to understand herself as a way to know Arthur. All of this suggests that the old world will always be a ghost in the new world.

Electricity symbolizes a future full of hope. Throughout the novel, Kirsten remembers electricity with a sense of wonder both for the delicate infrastructure of technology and for the power of human civilization that made the technology possible. When Kirsten sees the electricity in the town on the horizon, she has trouble believing the lights are real. A town filled with electricity promises more than just the possibility of living in homes lit up by light bulbs or the comfort of sitting in an air-conditioned room. The electric town gives Kirsten hope that one day human civilization will rise again and achieve some of the wonder and power that it reached before the collapse. This hope for the future is mirrored by the simple scene between Jeevan and his son. As Jeevan bakes bread and his son recovers from a fever, he’s filled with a beautiful sense of calm. Even after unthinkable loss, life and humanity goes on.