Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Looking for Alaska by John Green


Looking for Alaska, by John Green, is split in two parts, "Before" and "After." "Before" starts the story of a boy named Miles Halter and his search for The Great Perhaps. Miles lives in Florida with his parents and leads a boring life with no real friends, social life, or anything to look forward to. When given the opportunity to go to his father's legacy, Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama, he goes to "seek a Great Perhaps," which were Fran├žois Rabelais's last words. Miles reads biographies to learn about peoples' last words. When he gets to Culver Creek, Miles meets his roommate, Chip "The Colonel" Martin. The Colonel then renames Miles Pudge with irony because Miles is so thin. Shortly after Pudge arrives, his friendship with the Colonel introduces him to Alaska Young, who Pudge almost immediately develops a crush on. That night, Pudge is duct-taped and thrown into a pond on the grounds by the "Weekday Warriors," rich students who live in the area, for no other reason but that the Colonel is Pudge's roommate. This infuriates Alaska and the Colonel and an all-out prank war ensues. The war forges a wonderful friendship between the Colonel, Alaska, Pudge, and their friends Takumi and Lara. Pudge feels like he's getting to the Great Perhaps because his life is full of new danger with his on-campus underage drinking and smoking.
Pudge continues to have a huge crush on Alaska, and while she makes it known she is dating a college student, she often flirts with Pudge and lets him know she thinks he is attractive. After a drinking game, Alaska tells her friends that when she was eight, her mother had a brain aneurysm, and, in a shocked state, she watched her mother die instead of calling 911. Though her father eventually forgave her, she carries that guilt forever.
A few weeks or so later, Pudge, the Colonel, and Alaska are playing Truth or Dare after having way too much to drink, however Pudge is sober. Pudge and Alaska have a moment and they kiss. Alaska falls asleep, but is awakened by the phone ringing. After a few minutes, she comes into the room sobbing and saying that she is sorry and she has to leave. The Colonel and Pudge distract the teachers and allow Alaska to drive off-campus, thinking nothing of it.
"After" begins with Pudge and the Colonel being shuffled into the auditorium to be told that Alaska was in a car crash and passed away that night. The rest of the novel is Pudge and the Colonel trying to find out why Alaska had to leave that night.

1. Alaska constantly flirts with Pudge and the night she disappears they share an intimate moment. Alaska tells him she’s tired and says, “To be continued.” How would you feel if you were falling in love with someone, finally got their attention, only to have them ripped away?

2. One of the themes in this book is the tension between the well-off and the impoverished. Why can’t rich and poor live together in peace?

3. Alaska always talked about life being a “labyrinth of suffering” and how to escape it. What do you think is the best way to escape; go straight through, or go with the twists and turns?

3 comments:

Megan L.11-12 said...

To answer 1: I think most people would be devastated if their first love disappeared/died. It's human nature really. For myself, the context of the issue would determine my own feelings. For instance, if I were Pudge and I starting falling for this girl who was already dating somebody and only flirted with me, while I would be devastated that my FRIEND died, I would not be devastated that my LOVE died. If that makes sense. Sometimes people flirt just for the fun of it and nothing really comes of the situation, especially with friends. So, while I would be absolutely shocked by my friends disappearance, I wouldn't feel any love loss.

2. Long story short, in general, the "rich" think they are of a better caliber than the poor. The rich think that because they are rich and the poor are poor, the poor are less human than they are. While this isn't ALWAYS the case, generally it is. That is why in so many undeveloped or semi developed countries there is a major gap between the well off and the not well off people, and it explains why there is always tension between the two social groups.

3. In my personal opinion, certain issues force you to go along with them, especially the ones involving other people as the cause .For instance, if Pudge likes Alaska this is a problem. However he can't just simply bypass that she is dating somebody already and fix the problem because his problem and solution to said problem relies on Alaska's decisions as well.

Amanda Z. 11-12 said...

Megan, I definitely get what you're saying in regards to the first question. I suppose the way the book is written, you definitely get the feel that Pudge is in love with Alaska; he actually says it once, when she's sleeping. In my opinion, Alaska really does love Pudge and her boyfriend is just kind of in the way.

Again, I agree with you on the rich versus poor argument. It's really quite sad that money determines how people feel about and treat each other though, especially in the novel with the prank war between the well off kids and the scholarship kids.

In agreement. Again. One person can't just decide on a given course of action when others are involved because the others' decisions matter as well, especially when you care about them. Unfortunately, Alaska kind of takes the wrong approach.

James F (11-12) said...

to answer question 1 is simple...if i were falling in love and that person was ripped away from me i woulnt function correctly. i personally am a very loving person and i connect with people and make strong emotional relationships with them.if one of these relationships led to love i would only long for that person more. so basically it would suck and i hope that stops happening to people in this world because love is the answer my friends