Looking For Alaska
“I found myself thinking about President William McKinley, the third American president to be assassinated. He lived for several days after he was shot, and towards the end, his wife started crying and screaming, ‘I want to go too! I want to go too!’ And with his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his last words: ‘We are all going.’” (p. 120)
Looking For Alaska is a fiction book written by John Green. The last half of the book includes all of the part called “after”. The first half of the book is about how the main character Miles Halter forms relationship’s with people at his new school, Culver Creek. He gets to be very good friends with the Colonel, Takumi, Lara, and Alaska. The dividing point between the two parts of the book is the death of Alaska. She got really drunk late at night with Miles and the Colonel, then she suddenly wanted to go somewhere. The Colonel and Miles distracted the dorm monitor so she could leave. That night, she ran straight into a police car that was blocking off an accident on the road. The rest of the book Miles and the Colonel try to find out why she wanted to leave that night, mainly because they blame themselves for letting her leave that night. Alaska considered the most important question human beings must answer to be “How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?”. This is a reference to the last words of Simón Bolívar.
I love the themes that John Green tries to communicate in this book. He uses last words to communicate the themes he is trying to express. He also uses the last words to express what each character feels is most important. For example, Miles refers to the last words of Francois Rabelais that refer to seeking the Great Perhaps. This is the main motivation for Miles throughout the book, to try and seek the Great Perhaps with his friends. Alaska’s favorite last words also says a great deal about her character and motivation. She is believes that Bolivar’s labyrinth is life itself and the suffering that comes with life. She makes a note in her book that the only way out of the labyrinth is “straight and fast”. That is why she drove head on into a police car without even swerving. Alaska’s last words shows how much she reflects on the suffering she has had on her life and running to try and escape it. Miles favorite last words shows the importance he places on knowing the unknown. This is also why he put so much effort in investigating Alaska’s death.
There are several questions that this book asks of the readers such as, “What is the importance of forgiveness,” or, “Is it possible for the living to forgive the dead, or even vice versa?” By the end of the book, Miles realizes that forgiveness is necessary for humans to survive the labyrinth. Miles has to forgive his friend Takumi for not telling him one of the important facts about the night Alaska died. He also has to forgive Alaska for killing herself, even after telling Miles she would see him tomorrow. Miles also feels like Alaska needs to forgive him for allowing her to leave that night. Probably the most important question is the one Miles must answer for his religion final. In honor of Alaska, the assignment was to answer how he personally, would escape the labyrinth of suffering. Miles answers this question by discussing how humans can have a hope of escaping the labyrinth because it is a scientific fact that our energy cannot be destroyed.
I liked this book a lot because of the very good themes that are discussed in it. This book made me realize that I will not be able to survive the labyrinth of the past suffering in my life if I am not able to forgive myself and others. I still had a few problems with the amount of smoking and alcohol that is in this book, but the book also showed the dangers of alcohol because it was one of the reasons for Alaska’s death. Green uses smoking and alcohol as symbols in this book. My pastor said last week at church that alcohol abuse is usually the result of people running from something. This is certainly the case for Alaska and this book made me realize the importance of never drinking and driving. Except for those small problems I thought this was a very good book. I would recommend this book to any young adults because it discusses very important themes in our lives. I will leave with the last words of this book, “I was born into Bolivar’s labyrinth, and so I must believe in the hopes of Rabelais’ Great Perhaps.”