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Looking for Alaska Presentation
Transcript of Looking for Alaska Presentation
Looking for Alaska
“Here’s what’s not beautiful about it: from here, you can’t see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You see how fake it all is. It’s not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It’s a paper town… look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the furniture to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people too. I’ve lived here for eighteen years and never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters.” (Green 2008)
Miles "Pudge" Halter- Main character/Narrator
Chip "The Colonel"-Mile's Best friend/roommate
Takumi-part of the group
Alaska Young-stunning, reckless, and somewhat unstable girl who Miles falls in love with the second he laid eyes on her
Where? Modern day Alabama at a boarding school called Culver Creek.
Why? Miles, who is obsessed with the last words of famous and infamous people, goes to seek—what poet François Rabelais said in his last words—a “Great Perhaps.”
So? He meets the crazy, reckless, and drop-dead gorgeous, Alaska Young who, in her own way, helps him find the “Great Perhaps” he was looking for. Upon meeting him she tells him about the last words of General Simón Bolívar which were “Damn it, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth!” after he asks, “So what’s the labyrinth?” to which she replies, “That’s the mystery, isn’t it? Is the labyrinth living or dying? Which is he trying to escape—the world or the end of it?” (Green 2005)
After getting to know one another Alaska, the Colonel, Miles, and Takumi get together and organize a camping trip where the four of them share stories and secrets. At one point the four of them are sharing their own story about the worst day of their life thus far, Alaska’s was the worst of all. She describes a day when she was eight years old and she came home from school and everything was fine until she heard her mom scream. She ran into the kitchen only to see her mother on the floor convulsing. Alaska was young and scared and she didn’t know what to do so she just screamed and cried until her mom stopped moving. She had just watched her mother die of an aneurism. She blamed herself for not calling an ambulance, but how could she know? She was young and scared.
The idea of the labyrinth that Alaska Young obsesses over isn’t emphasized much until after the accident that killed her then that’s all Miles thinks about. He stops worrying about the “Great Perhaps” that he had gone to Culver Creek looking for and starts beating himself for the answer to Alaska’s question “How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering” and whether or not the accident she was in was intentional or not. Did Alaska kill herself or was it really an accident? At the end of the book Alaska’s question becomes the prompt for Miles’ final for his World Religion class and his answer to the question is written in the last three pages of the book. The question as to whether Alaska committed suicide or not, is never really answered. The reader is left to assume what he or she wants.
Psychology of the Book
Like Miles and the Colonel, the reader wants to believe that it was an accident because how could someone so beautiful and so smart feel like so much of a failure to want to die? Because the reader is put in Miles’ shoes he or she sees the psychological struggles that Miles goes through. Miles and the Colonel want to know the truth but are scared to find out. The two struggle with this a lot after Alaska’s death. Alaska on the other hand is just a train wreck of emotion. She blames herself for things that were completely out of her control and to numb any and all pain she turns to smoking cigarettes, drinking, and messing around with boys. She’s reckless and doesn’t think of the consequences. She over analyses things that should be left alone for her own sake and has a habit of misinterpreting things. For example: Bolívar’s labyrinth. If she did commit suicide then it was because she thought that getting out of the labyrinth meant dying. Alaska had a lot to figure out but she was trying to skip steps and was jumping to conclusions too quickly and sticking to them. I think that the biggest message that the book has to offer is that everything in life is survivable but death. All the emotional pain we go through is just a part of life. Sometimes it gets hard and that’s when its best to hold your head high and put up a fight because at one point or another, someone else went through the same thing and they’re still around. As Miles put it “We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken. We think we are invincible because we are… They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.” (Green 2005) We are invincible, we are permanent, and we can walk through Alaska’s labyrinth with the hope that we’ll find the Great Perhaps Miles looks for.
Miles leaves his small town and everything there to go find a "Great Perhaps". He spends his time at home reading biographies and becomes obsessed with the last words of the already dead. Perhaps this is why he goes to Culver Creek. He's looking to make something out of his life and he knows that he can't do it in the safety of the town where his life has been one big nonevent. He craves adventure because it's something he has yet to experience but has read so much about. He's looking for something throughout the whole book.
Miles’ relationship with Alaska and “The Colonel” that allows him to experience the “Great Perhaps,” as he throws caution to the wind and becomes a little less predictable and boring. He makes new friends and becomes involved in mischief that he never imagined he would be involved in. Mostly, Miles learns to be more impulsive and spontaneous due to the Alaska's influence.
After Alaska's death things change and both he and the Colonel experience a mild case of PTSD because they feel responsible for Alaska's death. But after looking for answers and finding different clues and getting a note from Takumi on the last day of school they begin to experience post-traumatic growth. This is clear in Mile's final essay based on Alaska's question about the labyrinth of suffering.
Alaska is a very complicated person. She watches her mother die at age nine and is frozen into paralysis and doesn't call 911 to save her. Alaska blames herself (as does her father) for her mother’s death. This is the main incident that causes Alaska’s suffering and pain. Her pain further snowballs when she forgets the anniversary of her mother’s death and she feels she has failed her mother yet again.
Through Alaska's behavior it's clear that she experienced PTSD at one point and was still very depressed. Because she over-analyzes things she feels responsible for a lot of the bad events in her life.
Alaska likes Moby-Dick and the Colonel's comment about it to Alaska gives us another glimpse of who she is. The Colonel says, “ The big white whale is a metaphor for everything. You live for pretentious metaphors” (Green 2005). The whale in Moby-Dick represents elements of life out of human control and unbridled nature, similar to Alaska who is care free and unbridled and experiences pain and loss that is out of her control. However the sea swallows up the whale just like Alaska is swallowed up by her pain and suffering leading up to her eventual death.
So how did Alaska choose to escape the Labyrinth of suffering? Alaska stated, “Getting out isn’t easy, ” and eventually got tired of going through the maze and never knowing when, or if her suffering and pain would end, and got tired of imagining a future free of suffering. Consequently, Alaska chose the “Straight & Fast” way out, skipping the labyrinth altogether and the pain and suffering that comes with it.
Looking For Alaska
Why I chose this book
It talks about how people today are paper thin; flimsy pieces of breakable, terrible, easily changeable paper.