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Looking for Alaska

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Katherine Waldrep

on 10 May 2011

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Transcript of Looking for Alaska

looking for alaska In this novel, John Green tells the story of Miles Halter, a tall but skinny teenager with an affinity for last words , who wants to find his own "great perhaps." "I go to seek a great perhaps"
..are the last words of poet Francois Rabelais that influence Miles to leave his public school and attend boarding school at Culver Creek. Being quiet and unsocial,he has no ties to home. He feels an urgency to find what he is looking for in life before he is an old man on his deathbed. "No drugs. No drinking. No cigarettes" ..is the advice his parents leave him with. Ironically, Miles, or Pudge as he is nicknamed, immediately makes friends with smart but reckless scholarship kids who indulge in all of these things. The most self-distructive of them all is Alaska Young, who Miles becomes infatuated with. Along with smoking, drinking and Alaska, Pudge's roommate, aka "the colonel" introduces him to how things work at his new school.He learns that 2 students, Paul and Myra, were expelled the previous year for multiple illicit activities after someone snitched. Pudge sees how big of a taboo it is to snitch when he is woken up in the middle of his second night. He is marched in his underwear to the lake on the outskirts of campus, mummified in duct taped, and thrown in. He learns that the reason for the prank was that the weekday warriors, (the rich kids on campus) mistakenly think that his roommate was the rat. The colonol and pudge take their revenge on the weekday warriors by putting industrial strength blue dye in their hair products and sending their parents fake reports saying they were failing. "Never never never rat" "You never get me. That's the whole point." ..Alaska says to Pudge one day. On multiple levels he never does get her. As much as he likes her, through her flirting and jokes, she has a boyfriend. The reasons he is drawn to her, like her intelligence and mysteriousness, are what keep her distant. Though he becomes closer to her, like when she admits to telling on Paul and Marya to avoid being expelled for sneaking off campus in the middle of the night and being in possession of alcohol, or when she tells the story of how she at 8 years old, watched her mother die of a brain aneurysm and was too panicked to dial 911, she always remains enigmatic. "How will I ever get out of this labrynth!" .. were Simon Bolivar's last words. Pudge was never able to tell Alaska the answer to her question;"Is the labrynth living or dying? Which is he trying to escape, the world or the end of it?" "God oh God, I'm so sorry." ..Is the last thing Miles ever hears Alaska say.After spending the night together drinking,Pudge and Alaska share a kiss. Hours later she wakes the boys up screaming and crying hysterically about being sorry.She asks them to distract the dean of students while she drives off campus. The Colonel and Pudge set of firecrackers as Alaska starts her car, run back to their dorms and fall back asleep, thinking nothing of it. The next morning Miles, Pudge, and the rest of the school learn that Alaska died in a car wreck. The roommates are overcome with grief and guilt. They start to uncover facts about their friends death.The night that Alaska left was the anniversary of her mom's death, and she had forgotton to visit her grave as she did every year, which is why she had white flowers in her backseat. Alaska crashed head on with a parked police car that was stationed to deter traffic from a jackknifed-truck. The boys question whether she meant to hit the other car, because while she was severely intoxicated, she never swerved even though the cop had its lights and siren on and had written a note in her book that the way out of the labrynth was "straight and fast". "Straight and Fast" Ultimately, it is up to the reader to infer what the last moments of Alaska's life were like. Pudge never learns what her last words were, or whether or not her death was an accident. Through this tragedy he gains perspective, and realizes that the way to escape the labrynth is forgiveness, towards others and one's self. As alive and passionate as Alaska was, she was trapped in her own guilt over her mother's death, and Miles realized he must forgive himself and others that contribute to his sorrow. By finding his way out of the labrynth, he catches a glimpse of his great perhaps. There are many symbols in this novel. The important quotes in the book are metaphors. The labrynth symbolizes suffering while the great perhaps symbolizes hope and opportunity. Historically, white tulips are a symbol of foregiveness, so its as if Alaska was apologizing every time she visited her mothers grave. There is dramatic irony in that Pudge happily drifts asleep after kissing Alaska only to learn the next morning that he will never have the chance to kiss her again. John Green was born August 24, 1977. He attended a boarding school outside of Burbingham, Alabama. He is the author of 5 novels, Looking for Alaska being his first. His experiences at his boarding school added greatly to the book. Many of the pranks that were puked in the book were inspired the own trouble he got into as a young man. Though the setting is not discussed much, it affects the story alot. While his book is controversial and banned by some school boards for content dealing with drinking, smoking, inappropriate language and sexually explicit situations, he has publically defended it saying "There are very old-fashioned values and even a lot of religion in it," and "There are some adults who think that the only kind of ethics that matter are sexual ethics, so they miss everything else that is going on in the book."
Looking for Alaska won the Michael L. Pritz Award in 2006
Finalist, 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize
2006 Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults
2006 Teens’ Top 10 Award
2006 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
A Booklist Editor’s Choice Pick
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
Borders Original Voices Selection
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