Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska Essay Questions

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.