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
Access Full Summary

Looking for Alaska Themes

Guilt and Forgiveness 

After puzzling over Alaska’s behavior for the earlier part of the novel, Miles and his friends learn that her moodiness and emotional outbursts stem from guilt. This is revealed during the best day/worst day game, when Alaska refers to the worst day of her life as the day that her mother died of an aneurysm. Alaska was eight years old at the time and was paralyzed with fear upon witnessing her mother’s collapse, which was why she did not call 911. Instead, she sat next to her mother’s body until her father arrived home and made a futile attempt at resuscitation.

Not only was this a tragic loss, Alaska feels guilty for not calling for an ambulance, and she suspects that her father blamed her to some extent, at least initially. Her friends try to comfort her but there is little that they can say, and Alaska regards her guilt as a heavy load that she has to carry for the rest of her life. As Miles reflects, this new information also frames some of her previous comments in a new light. For instance, when Alaska said that her mother no longer smokes, Miles thought little of this remark but now realizes that it carries a weightier, morbid significance. Likewise, Alaska’s aversion to going home and her cryptic remarks about family, become more understandable following her revelation.

Alaska’s guilt is compounded when she realizes that she has forgotten the anniversary of her mother’s death. This prompts her hysterical insistence that she needs to leave, with Miles and the Colonel ultimately agreeing to distract the Eagle so that she can drive away. This proves to be a bad decision, as Alaska dies in a car crash on the way to her destination. Miles and his friends fail to learn for certain whether her death was accidental or whether she had committed suicide, but they deduce that her plan had been to put flowers on her mother’s grave.

Letting Alaska drive away while drunk and hysterical leaves Miles and the Colonel with their own burden of guilt. In addition, Takumi…

This is just a preview. The entire section has 1642 words. Click below to download the full study guide for Looking for Alaska.