John Green

Looking for Alaska

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  • Features 58 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
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Looking for Alaska Major Character Analysis

Miles Halter 

Miles is the narrator of the novel and has a fascination with biographies and the last words of notable figures. The last words attributed to the poet Francois Rabelais are “I go to seek a Great Perhaps” and this expression becomes emblematic for Miles, who leaves behind his humdrum existence in Florida and starts afresh at Culver Creek. His father had attended this same school, which is partly the reason for his decision. However, he is also keen to embark on a new life of excitement and take part in the kind of adventures and pranks that notable figures (such as John F. Kennedy) engaged in during their days at boarding school.

The “Great Perhaps” provides Miles with a source of motivation, and he settles in quickly. After hitting it off with his roommate, Chip (aka “the Colonel”), he finds himself part of a close-knit circle of friends and experiences a life of fun and mischief. He is not as confident as the Colonel or as much of a natural leader, and he acquires the ironic nickname “Pudge” on account of his slight frame. However, he is content to serve as the Colonel’s sidekick for the time being, and the two become firm friends.

As a result of Alaska’s matchmaking, Miles becomes romantically involved with Lara and has his first sexual encounter. He finds Lara pleasant but his true interest lies with Alaska: he finds her strikingly beautiful and sometimes feels like acting on his impulse to kiss her, though she already has a boyfriend. As time goes on, however, Miles is increasingly puzzled and annoyed by Alaska’s moodiness and volatile emotions. Here, both the reader and Alaska perceive that he has built her up into a fantasy figure and that the reality is not so perfect—as he himself admits. In fact, there is a question mark over the extent to which Miles really knows Alaska.

Miles takes a keen interest in the World Religions class, and this prompts him to think about existential issues. Buddhism proves to be of particular interest, as Miles chews over the interconnectedness of life…

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