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Looking for Alaska

By mallevk May 16, 2013 1392 Words
”Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.”(Said by Alaska, p. 44, l. 17). This quote matches the theme because the book is very philosophical written, and Alaska gives many thoughts to life and death. The quote is a foreshadowing and tells a lot about the future incident. In this book Miles Halter is the narrator. The book is written from his point of view, and it takes statement in his thoughts, which only gives Miles’ posture of things. But at the same time it invites the reader to get in touch with Miles. It makes you feel pity for Miles, and in that way you really understand how he feels. The way that John Green has divided the book in “before” and “after”, builds up the excitement. There is a “count down” to the plot which tells that something big is going to happen – something that is going to change everything. At the beginning, the story takes place at Miles’ home in Florida(p. 3, l. 1). But then he moves to at boarding school called Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama(p. 6, l. 7-8). The story takes place in the early present, because they don’t have cell phones(“Our rooms had no phone lines, but my parents had requested I be placed in a room near one of Culver Creek’s five pay phones.” p. 7, l. 22-24). The environment is a bit tough, and as soon as Miles arrives, he is offered cigarettes, which he isn’t used to(“… Now let’s go get some cigarettes and start this year of right.” p. 14. l. 5). Miles is used to a totally different environment, and the Colonel(Chip Martin), his roommate, and Alaska is a big contrast to that. They also drink often(“… Except for the five bottles of Strawberry Hill in Alaska’s backpack.” p. 103, l. 12), and without noticing, Miles is pulled into a new world. Miles Halter is a skinny boy(“My skinniness always surprised me…” p. 9, l. 5). He lives in Florida with his parents. Miles isn’t used to having friends, which also explains why he doesn’t care about that no one is showing up at his going-away party(“… I was more or less forced to invite all my “school friends”…” p. 3, l. 5). When he arrives to Culver Creek he really wants to make a good impression(“I’d make a good first impression” p. 8, l. 9). So when the Colonel pushes him to buy some cigarettes, he just does to get friends. Miles is also very fascinated by last words(“Um, I know a lot of people’s last words.” p. 11, l. 10), and he is very philosophical(“I still think that, sometimes, think that maybe “the afterlife” is just something we made up to ease the pain of loss, to make our time in the labyrinth bearable.” p. 220, l. 3-6). Miles is obsessed by Alaska from the moment he meets her, and he thinks about her all the time(“… Fielding my endless questions about Alaska. What’s her story?... So she really likes him?… And so on. All morning, I’d been unable to care about anything else…” p. 21, l. 13-21). Later he starts falling in love with her(“… I would always love Alaska Young, my crooked neighbor. With all my crooked heart.” p. 218, l. 29), and he gets frustrated about it, because she has a boyfriend called Jake(“… but I really am attached to Jake.” p. 129, l. 12). Miles is called Pudge, which is a nickname that the Colonel came up with in the beginning(“… And we’ll call you… hmm. Pudge.” p. 14, l. 2). Alaska Young is a clever girl which Miles admire. According to Miles she is very fascinating. She seems very ironic, especially when it comes to life and death. At some places she seems like she doesn’t care about anything, which can be seen in the introductory quote. I think that Alaska makes a big impression on Miles, because she is such a huge contrast, and because she is so screwed-up(on the inside of the book cover at the flap, l. 7). Alaska likes to break the rules, and smokes as much as she wants to. She also drinks a lot(“She drank it down in two long sips…” p. 87, l. 1) and doesn’t really care about the consequences, if they get caught(“They’ll know you were here! I shouted. Her eyes widened. Oh no, you’re right, Pudge! she said. Maybe they’ll go to the Eagle and tell him that someone stole their wine cooler! She laughed and leaned out the window…” p. 87, l. 3-6). The reason why she is that way, is because of her childhood, where she couldn’t save her mother from dying(“She was lying on the floor, holding her head and jerking. And I freaked out. I should have called 911, but I just started screaming…” p. 119, l. 12-14). I think that’s the point where Miles finally understand her. Even that Alaska has this childhood and these traumas; she always tries to act hard, like nothing can ever harm her. Just like Miles, Alaska is very philosophical, and give many thoughts to life and death(“How do you get out of this labyrinth of suffering?” p. 82, l. 14). She also likes reading and has a lot of books in her room(“Have you really read all those books in your room?” p. 19, l. 31). There are a lot of symbols in the book. But one of the most important symbols is the Eagle; the headmaster of the school. I think that he is called “the Eagle” because it symbolizes a powerful, fast and strong bird – the king of all birds. And the Eagle is that “king of all birds” at the school. The Eagle also has a big overview, which a bird also has. Like I mentioned earlier, the introductory quote is a foreshadowing of what is going to happen – Alaska dies. There is also another clear foreshadowing to her death(“I may die young, she said. But at least l’ll die smart.” p. 52, l. 14). Almost all the foreshadowing’s in this book is a hint to that. The quote “How do you get out of this labyrinth of suffering?”(p. 82, l. 14) is a metaphor of Alaska’s life. At the beginning the quote says “How do you get out of this labyrinth?” but Alaska changes it to fit her life. I guess she feels that her life is a labyrinth of suffering, and she keeps asking herself how to get out of it. She feels that way, because of all the bad things she has experienced in her life. After Alaska has passed away, Miles finds her answer to the question, which she has ridden in her book(“How will I ever get out of this labyrinth! to a margin note written in her loop-heavy cursive: Straight & Fast.” p. 155, l. 25-27). Alaska feels guilty of her mother’s death, and she doesn’t like going home, which the quote(“I’m just scared of ghosts, Pudge. And home is full of them.” p. 80, l. 4) is a metaphor of. The book title Looking for Alaska, matches the theme and the content completely. In the beginning of the book I thought that the title didn’t make any sense, but after her death I finally understood. Miles and the Colonel – especially Miles – keep looking for answers about her death. They want to know about the mystery. Nothing can remain unsolved. So they keep looking for Alaska – not physically, but mentally. I must say I normally don’t like reading books. But this one made me think. There are so many genius quotes and so many great thoughts. The back of the book cover says: “This is a book that will touch your life” – and it certainly did. At some weird way, you just feel all the pain and suffering that the characters are pulled through. I am not sure that there is a specific message in this book. I think the point is to make the reader think about the meaning of life and death – it is like an eye opener. This book is completely honest; there is no sugar-coating it.

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