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Miles Halter Essay

Looking For Alaska book report

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The novel Looking for Alaska by John Green centers on a main character, Miles Halter, that goes through many learning experiences. For example, Miles goes through a huge adjustment period moving from Florida to Alabama for boarding school. Getting used to this new place was a huge mile stone in his life. Possibly the most influential person in Miles’ life is Alaska Young. Alaska makes Miles understand and learn things he never would have thought of before. Her death is something that changes Miles in a huge way. . Miles’ experience in World Religions class is another important learning experience.

Dr. Hyde, his teacher, teaches him much more than the history of different religions. Straight away in the novel, Miles goes through his first learning experience. Moving from his home in Florida to his new boarding school, Culver Creek, in Alabama was a huge adjustment. Miles initially noticed the massive climate between Florida and Alabama. While unpacking his things from his parents’ car when he first moved, he says “… each time I took those steps to and from the car … the sun burned through my clothes and into my skin with a vicious ferocity that made me genuinely fear hellfire. Miles soon realized that his dorm room was not air-conditioned. Miles eventually learns to just deal with the heat like everyone else at Culver Creek. Something else he had to get used to was living in a dorm room with someone for the first time. Miles’ roommate was Chip “the Colonel” Martin. The Colonel introduced Miles to the social make-up of the school; who to hang out with and who not to. Miles never had many friends back in Florida, so the Colonel giving him this advice really helped him out. Miles soon gained new friends, and began to adapt to his social group.

Despite his parents’ orders, Miles began smoking and drinking. At first, of course, he did not like it too much but he figured it was worth it. Among his friends, Alaska stands out the most to Miles. He was mesmerized by her, whether it was her looks or something she said, Miles was intrigued. Miles and Alaska were similar in a few ways. One of those similarities was that they both had a special talent; Miles could memorize famous last words of countless people, and Alaska could go through life like it was a metaphor. Alaska saw life as a labyrinth, such as the one from her favorite book The General in His Labyrinth.

She always talked about the last words of the character from that book, which were, “Damn it, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth! ” Alaska wanted to find out how exactly one gets out of the labyrinth, and what it even was. When she died in a car accident, the scene never showed any signs of her car swerving or even using her breaks. Miles and the Colonel worked for months trying to figure out how and why Alaska died. In the end, they figure she had been on her way to her mother’s grave, and when she saw the parked police car on the side of the road ahead of her, she had found a way to get out of labyrinth.

Alaska felt it was necessary right there and then to end her life and that she had already done all she could. This made Miles learn that you never really know when it is time to get out of the labyrinth, or life, until it is staring you in the face. Something else Miles learned from was his experience in World Religions class with Dr. Hyde. Dr. Hyde was a very old man, with only one lung. Despite not being able to walk or talk very fast, he was Miles’ favorite teacher. Most people hated his class because all he did was lecture during the whole fifty minutes.

Over the course of the year, Miles learned much more than just the history of Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. One specific thing Miles learned from was the final paper Dr. Hyde had assigned. The topic was “How will you -you personally- ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering? Now that you’ve wrestled with three major religious traditions, apply your newly enlightened mind to Alaska’s question. ” This topic really made Miles think. He connected his knowledge of the journey to reaching enlightenment in Buddhism, and Alaska’s idea of this great labyrinth in his paper.

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Thanks to Dr. Hyde, Miles was able to answer Alaska’s question his own way; which is that getting out of the labyrinth is the same process as reaching enlightenment, you never know when it’s going to happen and when it does it just, “POOF”, happens. Miles Halter experienced many learning experiences throughout the novel Looking for Alaska. He adjusted to a new school, gained new friends, and was able to see life in a completely different way. Without the Colonel, Alaska, and Dr. Hyde Miles’ first year at Culver Creek would not have been the same.

Author: Irvin Norwood

in Looking for Alaska

Looking For Alaska book report

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  • 1

    Pudge states several times that he is in pursuit of the Great Perhaps. Does Pudge find his Great Perhaps?

    Pudge feels he has found the Great Perhaps during the pre-prank, but at the end of the novel he implies that the future will be bright and will hold more chances for finding the Great Perhaps because he is alive. It could also be argued that Pudge always had his Great Perhaps, but only realizes this after Alaska’s death when he starts to live in the moment.

  • 2

    In what ways is the swan representative of Alaska?

    The swan is representative of Alaska in several respects. Swans are renowned for their physical beauty and the comparison between Pudge’s admiration for the Alaska’s looks and society’s preconceived notion of swans as beautiful creatures is clear. In the same way that swans are only known for their beauty, Pudge’s admiration for Alaska’s physical qualities clouds his perceptions of her as a person and overrides his memories of her true behavior following her death. The swan at Culver Creek is a creature to be feared. The Colonel warns Pudge about both the swan’s erratic behavior and not to become romantically involved with Alaska. Unfortunately for Pudge, he does not heed either of the Colonel’s warning and suffers a bite from the swan as well as unanswered emotional questions about the possibility of a future with Alaska.

  • 3

    How reliable is Pudge as a narrator?

    Because the novel is from Pudge’s perspective, the reader initially trusts himo. However, the reader may lose trust in Pudge to accurately portray the events when both the Colonel and Takumi contradict Pudge’s descriptions of Alaska after her death. Additionally, Pudge is passive in his actions throughout the book, which may suggest Pudge is passive in his formation of opinions, allowing the influence of others to play a big role in his narration. There are many parallels between Pudge as a narrator and Holden Caulfield as the narrator in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

  • 4

    Was Pudge really in love with Alaska?

    Before her death Pudge was in love with the idea of Alaska, the conception of her that he created. After her death, he has trouble reconciling this perceived notion of her with her last actions. In the end, Pudge says he loves her but again, he loves the constructed notion of her and he loves the effect that she has had on him.

  • 5

    In what ways was the Colonel a foil for Pudge?

    From their first interaction, Green makes it clear that the Colonel is a man of action while Pudge is more of a follower. Even the Colonel’s name suggests his role as a leader in Pudge’s life. The Colonel further serves as a foil to Pudge because he is able to see Alaska for all that she is and still love her while Pudge is so focused on the idea of Alaska that he has constructed.

  • 6

    Is Pudge ever ‘present’ as Dr. Hyde encourages him to be?

    Pudge is ‘present’ only once before Alaska’s death – the night of the pre-prank. It is only after Alaska is gone and he visits the site of the accident that Pudge is able to see the importance of being alive and experiencing life rather than dreaming about it.

  • 7

    What is the meaning of Bolívar’s Labyrinth?

    The labyrinth is an allusion that can be interpreted differently for each character. The major definition of the labyrinth is that the labyrinth is an allusion for suffering. Alaska describes the labyrinth as suffering with no escape. After Alaska’s death the Colonel defines the labyrinth as suffering, but that there it is a choice to be in the labyrinth rather than choosing death as Alaska appears to have done. One could argue that another way to escape the labyrinth of suffering is to pursue the Great Perhaps and all the hope that it holds.

  • 8

    Alaska tells a knock-knock joke that confuses Pudge. What does the knock-knock joke represent?

    Alaska tells Pudge to begin the knock-knock joke by asking “knock-knock” to which she responds “who’s there?” As it is Alaska’s joke, Pudge does not have an answer. This interaction can be interpreted in different ways. It can be seen as part of the larger idea that Pudge is unable to understand Alaska so he has no way to answer the question. An additional interpretation is that Pudge has much to discover about himself at this point in the novel and his lack of an answer symbolizes Pudge not knowing himself.

  • 9

    Did Alaska’s death lead to the disintegration of Culver Creek?

    At first, yes. There is a period of inaction and discord among the major characters immediately following Alaska’s death. They process her death differently and in doing so they lose some of the unity that is apparent at the beginning of the novel. However, Alaska’s death ultimately brings Pudge, the Colonel, Takumi, and Lara closer together.

  • 10

    Does Pudge’s quest for the Great Perhaps hinder his ability to live in the moment? Does it prevent him from suffering?

    The Great Perhaps is in some ways a contradiction. It is both a series of “what ifs” that Pudge focuses on which does prevent him from experiencing Alaska for who she truly is when she is alive. At the same time that the Great Perhaps functions as a hypothetical, it also gives hope to those who pursue it. Pudge does suffer as a result of Alaska’s death, but the Great Perhaps helps him to see a brighter future.

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