Pudge and the group wake up at the Smoking hole hungover but feeling accomplished as they make their way back to the dormitories. As the new semester begins, Kevin – now with blue hair – confronts the Colonel and again a truce is postponed. Lara and Pudge further their relationship when she unsuccessfully tries to give Pudge a blowjob and then successfully after getting advice from Alaska.
To celebrate the success of the Barn Night pre-prank, Pudge and the Colonel gather in Alaska’s room to drink and play Truth or Dare. The game starts and ends with Alaska daring Pudge to make out with her. They make out, forgetting their respective significant others and the Colonel, but Alaska suddenly declares that she is too tired and it can be continued later. Pudge falls asleep next to Alaska despite the Colonel telling him it is a bad idea. At some point in the night the phone in the hallway rings and Alaska goes to answer it. When she returns she is hysterical, pleading for Pudge and the Colonel to help her leave campus. The boys do not ask for an explanation, nor do they caution her not to drive drunk, but they help her to escape campus in her car by setting off fireworks and then heading back to their room.
Pudge and the Colonel are woken up by the Eagle the next morning and order to the gym where everyone is assembled. The Colonel muses that they have probably gathered everyone because Dr. Hyde died because that had been the protocol when a similar situation had occurred before. The Eagle starts to address the school, but Pudge interrupts him to shout that he should wait until Alaska arrives. Everyone in the gym is shocked when the Eagle states that Alaska was killed in a car accident the night before.
As the shock of Alaska’s death passes over Pudge, he tries to vomit outside the gym, but returns when he is unable to and is comforted by several students and teachers. Pudge and the Colonel return to their room, comforting each other by crying, hugging, and supporting each other.
Pudge and the Colonel deal with Alaska’s death differently. Pudge calls his parents and finds comfort in the last words of famous people, though he solemnly admits he will never know Alaska’s. The Colonel walks forty-two miles before returning to campus two days later. The funeral is a closed casket, much to Pudge’s disappointment as he finds little closure without being able to see Alaska one last time. The boys are clearing out all of the compromising things in Alaska’s room when they begin to wonder whether Alaska’s death was an accident or a suicide – Alaska trying to find her way out of the labyrinth of suffering.
This section of the novel is the climax of the story. Alaska’s death marks the switch in the title of the chapters from “before” to “after,” suggesting Alaska’s death is the focal point of the novel. Green specifically uses the word “disintegrating” to describe Culver Creek following Alaska’s death. According to the author, the use of disintegrating rather than other synonyms was an intentional choice to show how all of the characters and events at Culver Creek were integrated, but Alaska’s death destroyed this sense of unity.
Although Pudge is the obvious protagonist and narrator, Alaska plays a central role in Pudge’s life and once she is gone there is a dramatic shift in Pudge’s behavior. Immediately preceding her death Pudge took control of his own life – making progress on his relationship with both Lara and Alaska, participating in the pranks, and finding the Great Perhaps. After her death, Pudge changes back to someone more concerned with the past and less focused on the moment at hand.
At the forefront of Pudge’s thoughts after Alaska’s death is the kiss. Much of his relationship with Alaska prior to the night that they play Truth or Dare is an imagined romantic connection between the two of them. When they finally kiss, Pudge is certain that the connection between them was true, but Alaska’s death prevents him from ever fully knowing. Though one would expect the kiss to bring some finality to Pudge’s view of his relationship with Alaska, it only confuses him further. Earlier in the novel, Alaska admits that “imagining the future is a kind of the nostalgia” and that she never wants to be the type of person to dwell on such things. In her death however, Pudge becomes nostalgic both for the Alaska that he knew and the would-be Alaska of the future. Alaska, both living and dead, confuses Pudge.
Representative of Pudge’s nostalgia for the loss of his friend and the loss of their future together, Pudge has a dream about Alaska. In the dream she is naked, representing her as the living version of herself that Pudge idolized, but she quickly turns into a pile of rotting, dead flesh. The dream demonstrates Pudge’s unwillingness to let go of the past, despite the current situation. In some ways the dream also parallels the relationship Pudge had with Alaska; always unsure of what she would do next, but nonetheless he was drawn to her.
Another significant event in this section comes when Pudge calls out for the Eagle to wait for Alaska to arrive before beginning the assembly. In prior sections of the book, Pudge is a follower - unable to speak up and always chasing after Alaska. When he tells the Eagle to wait for Alaska, Pudge is waiting for Alaska rather than chasing her.
Alaska’s death forces the Colonel and Pudge to bond in more significant ways. Pudge calls his parents for support, but he finds more comfort in talking with the Colonel. The physical distance between Pudge and his parents contributes to their inability to comfort him, but more than that it is clear that Pudge has grown up quite a bit; now that he has friends, he requires less support from his parents.