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Looking for Alaska

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d hagendorn

on 1 May 2011

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Transcript of Looking for Alaska


Miles "Pudge" Halter – The novel's protagonist, who has an unusual interest in learning famous people's last words. He goes to the boarding school Culver Creek in search of his own "Great Perhaps." Tall and skinny, his friends at Culver ironically nickname him "Pudge." He is attracted to Alaska Young who does not return his feelings.

Alaska Young – The wild, self-destructive, enigmatic girl who captures Pudge's attention and heart. She’s smart, spontaneous, loves to play pranks, and ultimately changes everyone’s life. She essentially Miles into her labyrinth and catapults him into the Great Perhaps.

Chip "The Colonel" Martin – Alaska's best friend and Pudge's roommate, who plans out the schemes that Alaska concocts. He is extremely smart and is obsessed with loyalty and honor.

Takumi– A friend of Alaska and the Colonel, who often feels left out of Pudge, the Colonel, and Alaska's plans. He takes part in the pranks that Alaska comes up with.

Lara– Alaska's friend and Pudge's girlfriend for a short time. She takes part in executing pranks with her friends.

The Eagle- The dean of Culver Creek who is very aware of Alaska and The Colonel's love for mischief. Significance of Last Words

The last words of two people are especially important in this book:

Simon Bolivar said, “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?” which a question Alaska always refers to. The idea of the labyrinth is important to the characters of this book, who interpret the question as being about suffering: “How will I get out of this labyrinth of suffering?”

Francois Rabelais said, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps" which is the reason why Miles leaves to go to Culver. PLOT

Miles, tired of his friend-less, dull life in Florida, convinces his parents to send him away to boarding school in Alabama so that he can seek "the Great Perhaps," famous last words of a poet named Rabelais. There he meets his roommate and soon-to-be best friend, Chip, called the Colonel, Alaska Young, the moody, gorgeous, wild girl who instantly becomes the object of his affection, and their friend Takumi. Miles quickly bonds with his new friends over elaborate pranks, studying, and rule-breaking, aspects of life he had never experienced before.

The book is separated into two sections- before and after. Green replaces chapter headings with a countdown, starting the before section with “136 days before”, and starting the after section with “the day after”.

In the Before section, it tells the story of Miles relationship with his new friends at his new school. It involves them playing pranks on the rich kids in school, drinking, playing games and having a good time. The section ends with Alaska drinking and driving away from Culver, and Miles and Chip let her go.

The after section starts with the announcement of Alaska Young’s death and the discovery that she plowed into a police car. Her death puzzles Miles and Chip and makes them question whether or not her death was an accident or suicide. Guilt stricken for letting her drive intoxicated, Miles and Chip trying to uncover the truth about Alaska’s death and her reasons for leaving that night. At the end of the novel, Pudge turns in an essay for school that answers one of Alaska's questions: "How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?" He concludes that to forgive is the way out of the labyrinth of suffering, and Alaska's spirit must still exist somewhere, because it was too full of life to stop existing.
About The Author

John Green attended Indian Springs School, a boarding school in Alabama similar to Culver Creek.

When he was a student there, two students died under circumstances similar to Alaska’s.

The pranks that were executed in the book were similar to pranks that he pulled in high school.

Some teachers from Culver are direct caricatures of teachers from his high school

Like Miles, Green is also fascinated with people’s last words

Looking for Alaska began in thinking about whether there was a meaning to suffering, and how one can reconcile one’s self to a world where suffering is so unjustly distributed Thanksgiving

This event in the text is a major landmark for Miles.
Miles and Alaska get to spend a lot of time together. Miles begins to realize that he is truly falling in love with her.
Miles and Alaska brainstorm and discuss their plan to stage a retaliatory prank against the “Weekday Warriors”.
Learn more about Chip and his family situation
(qt. 92) The Barn

This location serves as the hideout for Miles and his friends as they conduct their prank. While at the barn several significant things unrelated to the prank also happen.
Miles and Lara decide to start dating
The group shares with each other the best and worst days of their lives- gives insight into Alaska’s life. (qt. 120). Alaska's Death

A few nights after conducting the prank Alaska, Chip, and Miles decide to drink in Alaska’s room. Suddenly Alaska gets a phone call and leaves the room. She tells the boys that she needs to leave, and they let her drive away drunk
The next day, everyone at Culver Creek learns that she died in a car accident.
Her death causes Miles and Chip to discover how and why she died, but it also leads them to question certain aspects of life The Lake

The lake is another key location of Culver Creek. Miles’ first experience at the lake is when some of the “Weekday Warriors” prank him by kidnapping him from his dorm room in the middle of the night, duck tape his arms and legs together, and throw him into the lake. (qt. 25 )
Also residing in the lake is a vicious swan that bites Miles when he Takumi try to flee the pursuit of the “Eagle” while conducting distractions during their prank on the “Weekday Warriors”. Forgiveness

Their religion teacher asks them the question: How will you get out of this labyrinth of suffering?, one of Alaska’s favorite questions
On the last day of school, Miles finds a letter from Takumi saying that he also saw Alaska the night of her death and that’s how he knew January 9th was when her mom took her to the zoo, her favorite day. Janurary 10th, Alaska died and It was discovered that Alaska realized she forgot to bring flowers to her mom’s grave, and that’s where she was driving too.
Through all the investigations of figuring out Alaska’s death, Miles realized that forgiveness was necessary to survive the labyrinth of suffering.
Miles realizes now, that the only thing he and his friends can do is forgive each other for the tragedy that has happened. Miles, Chip, and Takumi must forgive themselves and Alaska for the terrible events that have transpired. Miles concludes that the only way to escape the labyrinth of suffering is through forgiveness of one another.

“But she will forgive me, just as I forgive her for forgetting me and the Colonel and everyone but herself and her mom in those last moments she spent as a person. I know now that she forgives me, just as her mother forgives her”
“I do not believe she was only matter. I believe now that we are greater than the sum of our parts. There is a part of her greater than the sum of her knowable parts. And that part has to go somewhere because it cannot be destroyed”
“We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are”
"We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail” Culver Creek

Culver Creek is the boarding school which Miles Hadley attends to finish his high school career.

At Culver Creek, Miles…
Meets his new friends Alaska, Chip, Takumi, and Lara
Attends a fascinating World Religions Class
Learns more about himself
Discovers true happiness and sadness through friendship, love and loss
This is where he begins his journey to the "Great Perhaps"
(qt. 7)
The Great Perhaps

Miles last stop on his journey, his realization that there is a meaning and purpose to life. The characters in the book interpret the Great Perhaps as giving meaning to your life on earth, and at times they think of it in terms of the afterlife.
In the end of the book, Pudge is asked “How will you get out of the labyrinth of suffering?” and his answer has to do with love and forgiveness and the belief that we are made of something deeper than just our bodies. The Prank

One of the most exciting and humorous points in the text. Miles and his friends work together to exact a sharp prank against the "Weekday Warriors."
The group congregates in the barn where they coordinate their efforts to pull off the prank. Takumi and Miles use fireworks to distract the Eagle. Lara puts blue dye in the "Weekday Warriors" hair gel, while Chip and Alaska send progress reports to the "Weekday Warriors" parents.
(qt. 106)- "The Distraction"
Full transcript