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Looking for Alaska by John Green
Transcript of Looking for Alaska by John Green
Culver Creek, Alabama
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Miles Hometown, Florida
"The Old Man"
The story of Looking for Alaska first takes place in Miles’s home in Florida. For a final goodbye before Miles goes off to boarding school in Alabama to search for his “Great Perhaps”, his parents invite his school friends over whom Miles considers “the ragtag of drama people and English geeks I sat with by social necessity,” (Green p.3). His life, in general, sounds miserable except for his peculiar interest in people’s last words. Based on Francois Rabelais’s last words, Miles then sets off to Culver Creek in search of his Great Perhaps or meaning in life.
During the duration of Looking for Alaska, Miles adjusts to life in Culver Creek, a prestigious boarding school. This is where Miles meets his friends, adversaries, and begins to seek out his Great Perhaps.
Miles is the protagonist in Looking for Alaska. As readers, we see the story through his perspective. Miles is a skinny high school boy who can be compared to a stick. He, ironically, is given the nickname “Pudge” upon arrival in Culver Creek. Miles can be described as awkward, yet thoughtful in terms of personality. He has a hobby of reading people’s biographies, but only remembers their last words because they are either sardonic or meaningful.
Alaska Young is the most enigmatic character in the novel of Looking for Alaska. She can be either extremely boisterous or moody given the day. Even though her personality is what some may call, “dynamite dynamic”, she is a consistent character, her opinions, thoughts, and dynamic personality never change. The only thing that changes is how her friends view her as the story progresses. Even though she is not the main character in this book she is extremely high maintenance and is focused on throughout most of the novel. Most of the time, Alaska makes reckless jokes about death, “Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die,” (Green p.44). This leads readers to question whether Alaska’s jokes and roller coaster mood swings are just part of her character or side effects of depression.
Chip Martin, or “The Colonel” is Miles’s roommate and later becomes his closest friend. Despite The Colonel’s domineering personality and strut, he is amusingly short. As well as being Miles’s roommate, The Colonel proves to be his lifeline when it comes down to guiding him through the “social hierarchy” of the school and coming up with pranks against the notorious Weekday Warriors, the wealthy students attending Culver Creek.
Takumi is The Colonel and Alaska’s close friend with a surprising talent for rapping. When Miles arrives at Culver Creek, however, Takumi feels left out of The Colonel and Miles’s plans.
Lara is a minor character in the novel Looking for Alaska. She is a Romanian immigrant with a slight accent and one of Alaska’s close friends, and for a short time, Miles’s temporary girlfriend. Even though her she has a acquitted demeanor, she assists Miles, Alaska, The Colonel, and Takumi in their strategic pranks.
Mr. Starnes or more frequently referred to as, “The Eagle”, because of his watchful eye, is the dean of the students at Culver Creek. Although he is extremely strict about alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs on campus, he truly cares about the student’s well being. Miles, Alaska, Lara, The Colonel and Takumi also prank the Eagle numerous times throughout the book.
Dr. Hyde or as The Colonel nicknamed him, “The Old Man”, is the religion professor at Culver Creek. He educates students on different cultures, the meaning of life, and the views of certain religions. Because this is a class that students can be thoughtful and express their opinions, Miles appreciates this class the most. The Old Man has trouble breathing and is often joked about by sadistic students that he may one day stop breathing during class. Despite this challenge Dr. Hyde faces, he is passionate about what he teaches and Miles admires that.
In the novel, Looking for Alaska, one of the most immediate conflicts the protagonist faces is finding his Great Perhaps or his greater meaning in life. Coming from a small town in Florida with no apparent social connection to anyone around him, Miles is not sure who he really is and who he wants to become in the future. The reason he started his adventure to Culver Creek was to pursue his Great Perhaps, which he eventually finds later on as the plot begins to thicken.
*SPOILER ALERT* I know this is supposed to be an “exposition” post and this conflict does not arise during the exposition, but it is by far the most important inner conflict Miles faces throughout this novel. When Alaska dies in a terrible car accident, Miles and The Colonel search for answers about why she needed to leave the school so late at night and in such a despondent mood. As they pry deeper into Alaska’s death, it becomes more obvious that it was a suicide and that she escaped the depressing labyrinth that was life “Straight and Fast,” (Green p.155). As he reached this conclusion, Miles first blames himself for her death, reassures himself, and then becomes angry at Alaska all over again for “(leaving him) Perhapsless, stuck in your labyrinth,” (Green p.172). Finally, after a long period of inner torment, Miles realizes that despite the selfishness of her actions he “would always love Alaska, my crooked neighbor, with all my crooked heart,” (Green p.218). And with a start, he ultimately figures out the answer to Alaska’s question: “We (have) to forgive to survive in the labyrinth,” (Green p.218).