February 12, 2011
Looking for Alaska
The main theme in John Green’s novel “Looking for Alaska” is that there is more to life than can be experienced through any one person or experience, and that we will never truly understand everything that happens to us or the ones we love. We just have to accept these things, whether they be good or bad, and hope for the best.
The novel is written in first-person perspective, through the eyes of the main character. His name is Miles Halter, and he is a seventeen year old boy living in Florida. He doesn’t have any “real” friends, only the people he sits with while eating lunch at school. One of his hobbies is reading the last pages of biographies of random famous people, so he can memorize their last words. I believe the reason that he does this is so that he can really understand what kind of people they were, in essence what made them tick. That way, he could copy them and their beliefs so that he could become a person of great influence as well. But that’s only my theory.
Miles wanted to change schools and attend the Culver Creek Boarding School, which is located in Alabama. There, he’s room-mates with “The Colonel”, whose real name is Chip Martin. Within five minutes of meeting each other, The Colonel decides to nickname Miles “Pudge”, and throughout the story the name sticks.
The Colonel comes from a very poor family (single mother who works for minimum wage) and only got into Culver Creek because of his incredible ability to remember everything he reads. His education is riding on the faith that he’s able to keep his scholarship, and not get kicked out of the Culver Creek fir misbehaving. The reason why this is a major issue is because The Colonel and Alaska (one of his best friends) enjoy pulling pranks on the Weekday Warriors. The Weekday Warriors are the rich kids who only stay at school for the week and go home to their big mansions on the weekends and party. The Colonel hates the Weekday Warriors with a burning passion, and does everything in his power to annoy the hell out of them.
The Colonel then explains how things work at “the creek”, such as snitching is the worst possible thing that someone could do, etc. He then takes Pudge to meet Alaska and Takumi, the other two main characters in the novel.
Takumi is Asian (if you couldn’t tell from the name), and has mad beat-boxing skills. He also enjoys pulling pranks on the Weekday Warriors, along with the Colonel and Alaska. He’s sort of The Colonels right hand man.
Alaska is a whole different story. Basically, she runs the show. She’s extremely intelligent, but along with that is also very self-destructive. She’s always getting into trouble with the Eagle (the principal of Culver Creek) for getting caught smoking, drinking, and sneaking off campus to visit her older boyfriend, Jake. If you’ve read through the book a few times, as I have, you’re able to pick out these seemingly meaningless things that she says. They’re the complete opposite of meaningless though, because you have to take the puzzle pieces and fit them together, to ultimately prove what kind of person she was. This is pretty near impossible though, because she was incredibly complex. She didn’t WANT to be understood. She was such a mystery, even to the people closest to her, that they couldn’t see the warning signs and save her life.
The novel is split into two different parts. The before, and the after. Before is while Alaska is still alive. It shows how Pudge starts falling in love with her, all the crazy stuff they get into (pulling pranks on the Weekday Warriors, etc.) and how The Colonel and Pudge start becoming best friends. Also, it’s when Pudge gets set up with a girl by Alaska (which is kind of ironic, because Pudge is actually in love with Alaska). It also shows the gradual decline of Alaska’s outlook on life, and her general attitude towards everything.
The after portion of the novel is...