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Looking For Alaska

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Rasmia Shraim

on 2 June 2015

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Transcript of Looking For Alaska

Looking For Alaska
Reader's Response
This book provides numerous insights on life. It's themes and subject matters appeal to a hefty audience and it provides lessons such as what freindship really means. However , though the book left us with some answers it also left us with some questions. Some unanswered questions my group had were how Alaska died. We know she died in a car crash, but we are not told how, and neither are the Colonel or Miles, so it’s a very big mystery as to whether or not it was suicide, or if the car crash was truly an accident. Another question I had was why Alaska just sat there and watched her mom die. The last thing I wondered is as to what happened to Alaska to make her do so many forbidden and restricted activities.

Critical Lenses and Themes in
Miles “Pudge” Halter is as average as it gets. He came from a nowhere town and city and transferred to board school in order to pursue the “great perhaps”. He was unsatisfied with his dull life so he seeked adventure and excitement in boarding school, a "Great Perhaps" He meets friends Alaska Young and Chip "The Colonel" Martin.
Chip is a super smart and mischievous boy and therfore the king of pranks at Culver Creek. He comes from a poor background and is at Culver Creek on a sponsorship.He is short and stocky but his build doesn't hinder him from being a great leader nonetheless.
Alaska is a fascinating young woman with her spontaneousness. She had great insight on life and is not afraid to protect her views but she also has another side a side everyone has but doesn't show. A dark side involving mood swings and depression and overall odiousness.
Miles falls in love with Alaska or at least his version of her and when he loses her it tears him and his freinds apart. A school of strict rules and good education Culver Creek has a lot to offer but most important of all is the lesson learned too late. A lesson about friendship and what it really means .

“'I’m just scared of ghosts Pudge. And my home's full of them.'” (Green 80)

Most of the characters have difficult lives and do not seem like they are content with their lifestyle. For example, Alaska comes from a complicated family that has many problems. These problems start affecting her negatively and it causes her to have mood swings and her feelings cause her to dislike her home.

"No one talked for a minute, and then Takumi asked, 'Your dad blamed you?'
'Well, not after that first moment. But yeah. How could he not?'" (Green 114)

When Alaska was 8 years old, her mother died. Alaska was present during her last moments alive. She could have altered her mother's fate by calling an ambulance while her mother was having her seizure. For this reason, Alaska's father has blamed her for her mother's death, which is what caused Alaska to dislike her father as well as the life she lived. Alaska 's mood swings and personality disorders stem from a minefield of psychological problems. She always feels as though she lets down everyone the way she let down her mother. She feels guilty because of something that was not entirely her fault. A lot of her suffering is self inflicted as if she’s punishing herself. However her father who is not supportive of her also inflicts some of this pain and anguish.

“'You’ve got the regular boarders like me and then you’ve got the weekday warriors; they board here, but they are all rich kids and go home to their parents air conditioned mansions every weekend. Those are the cool kids. I don't like them and they don’t like me….'” (Green 13)

"I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep… But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane." (Green 88)
Looking through the socio-economic lense, this quote shows how there is discrimination between the rich kids and the regular ones. Socially, the weekday warriors and the normal kids are the same because all of the kids face the same kind of problems psychologically, even though economically separated.
"The Colonel was screaming. He would inhale, and then scream. Inhale. Scream. Inhale. Scream.
I thought, at first, that it was only yelling. But after a few breaths, I noticed a rhythm. And after a few more, I realized that the Colonel was saying words. He was screaming, 'I'm so sorry.'" (Green 141)

"I wanted to like booze more than I actually did (which is more or less the precise opposite of how I felt about Alaska). But that night, the booze felt great, as the warmth of the wine in my stomach spread through my body. I didn't like feeling stupid or out of control, but I liked the way it made everything (laughing, crying, peeing in front of your friends) easier. Why did we drink? For me, it was just fun, particularly since we were risking expulsion." (Green 111)
Miles, as a new arrival at the Creek, has to learn not just the written rules of the school but also the unwritten rules of the social order. And sometimes (actually, quite often) unwritten rules are more important than written rules. The thought Miles has here is that of an outsider; his view on rules and order change as he becomes an insider.
The phrase "When in Rome" is the short version of When in Rome, do as the Romans do. It means that it's to a person's advantage to adopt and mimic the customs of a society, especially when the person is unaware of many customs. Looking through the socio-economic lense, this quote talks about when Miles tries to adapt to the customs of Alaska because he wants to belong so he smokes the cigarette.
"'Anyway, when you get in trouble, just don't tell on anyone. I mean, I hate the rich snots here with a fervent passion I usually reserve for only dental work and my father. But that doesn't mean I would rat them out. Pretty much the only important thing is never never never never rat.'
'Okay,' I said, although I wondered: If someone punches me in the face, I'm supposed to insist that I ran into a door? It seemed a little stupid. How do you deal with bullies and assholes if you can't get them in trouble?" (Green 105-106)
"The Colonel gave an obligatory laugh, then asked, 'Want a smoke?' I had never smoked a cigarette, but when in Rome…

'Is it safe here?'

'Not really,' he said, then lit a cigarette and handed it to me." (Green 128)
When Miles compares his feelings about Alaska to alcohol usage, it reveals the lack of control he has when it comes to both situations. He claims that he drinks for fun, which isn't too bad, but drinking for fun can lead to eventually feeling the need to drink when you aren't feeling happy. This potentially can risk the outcome of being an alcoholic.
"'That was brilliant,' said Alaska. 'I have one. You start.
'Okay. 'Knock Knock.'
'Who's there?' said Alaska
I looked at her blankly. About a minute later, I got it, and laughed.
My mom told me that joke when I was six. It's still funny." (Green 94)

Alaska's mother died when she was eight, but even before her death, her mother was not the most caring mother towards her. By telling this joke to Pudge, she was telling him about her mother's ways and how she did not care for her that much and how she was not there for her when she needed her mother the most.
Most teenagers, when in high school, want to date or start dating their peers. Miles obviously wants to date Alaska, but she already has a boyfriend. Although, he thinks that she's too amazing and beautiful to ever want to date someone as non fascinating as him. This typical high school drama is relatable to many teenagers in two main ways.
Having a crush
Being self-conscious
On average, 8 people die everyday. So many people have to go through the loss of someone special or close to them. When The Colonel and Miles found out about Alaska's death, they tried to get rid of the suffering by preoccupying themselves with the question of whether Alaska's death was an accident or suicide. The Colonel got himself drunk to the point where he reached 0.24 on the breathalyzer (which was the same level as Alaska at the time of her death) and he and Miles came to the conclusion that it was most likely an accident.
Green, J. (2005). <i>Looking for Alaska: A novel</i> (p. 256). New York, New York: Dutton Children's Books.

Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). Literature Learning Guides & Teacher Resources. Retrieved March 30, 2015, from http://www.shmoop.com/literature/

Barnes & Noble - Books, Textbooks, eBooks, Toys, Games & More. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2015, from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/

Theme: Teenagers encoutering situations involving drugs/alcohol, mental suffering, love, and death.
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