John Green

Looking for Alaska

  • 81-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 58 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a literary scholar with a PhD in English and a Master's degree in Philosophy
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Looking for Alaska Chapters 1-5 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 1 Summary

Miles Halter is a sixteen-year-old boy who is poised to leave his hometown in Florida to attend boarding school in Alabama. His mother has thrown him a going away party, but, despite her enthusiasm, Miles knows that it will be a washout. As he expected, there are only a couple of guests, but Miles is not disappointed—he is more concerned with the life that awaits him in Alabama. His father attended the same school, Culver Creek, which is partly the reason Miles chose it. More than this, though, Miles is motivated by the idea of a “Great Perhaps.” Miles has an interest in the last words of notable figures, and the last words attributed to the poet Francois Rabelais are “I go seeking a Great Perhaps.” As Miles explains to his parents, this is what he is seeking at Culver Creek.

Chapter 2 Summary

Miles’s mother tries to help him out upon his arrival at Culver Creek by offering to make his bed. However, he is keen to embrace his newfound independence. He has read about the adventures enjoyed by figures such as John F. Kennedy and Humphrey Bogart at boarding school, and he hopes to follow in their footsteps. He is also keen to meet his roommate, Chip Martin.

Before starting out on his new adventure, Miles attends to the practical matters of unpacking and showering. He then encounters Chip, and the two make their introductions. Chip was admitted to Culver on a scholarship, and his parents divorced when he was a sophomore. He is gifted academically and has a knack for memorizing the names of countries and capital cities.

After they have finished unpacking and furnishing their dorm room, Chip gives Miles an introduction to life at Culver Creek. There are two types of students—regular boarders such as themselves and “Weekday Warriors” who return home at the weekend—and they are constantly at odds. Chip also warns Miles that it is necessary to be careful around the teachers and other students, though he adds that he hates being careful. Miles smirks at this and reflects that he does not want…

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