Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska Summary and Analysis of one hundred ten days before – sixty-seven days before

Summary

Early on in the semester, Pudge is kicked out of Dr. Hyde’s class for daydreaming and is followed by Alaska who attempts to defend Pudge. Unused to alienating his teachers, Pudge happily spends more time with his Alaska, the Colonel, and Takumi at their designated smoking spot in the woods.

The following day Pudge attends the Culver Creek basketball game. Pudge and the Colonel are approached by one of Pudge’s attackers, Kevin Richman. He offers a truce but the two roommates deny him when the Colonel challenges Kevin to name any president and Pudge correctly states the last words of said president. Culver Creek is losing badly but the Colonel excitedly cheers on the team and berates their opponents so much that he is ejected from the game as is from every game.

At school Dr. Hyde pulls Pudge aside to admonish him for not paying attention in class. Drawing upon Buddhist beliefs, he explains that Pudge should be present for every moment rather than daydreaming out the window. Alaska helps Pudge study for his pre-calculus exam and the two grow closer. Ever curious to learn more about her, Pudge asks Alaska to explain her name. She details her hippie parents’ decision to let seven year old Alaska pick her own name, but more than that Alaska keeps the name when learns that it means ‘that which the seas breaks against’ in Aleut. A possible romantic moment between Pudge and Alaska is broken when she declares that she will not spend her entire life trying to escape the present by imagining the future; a concept Pudge has still yet to grasp.

Some days later, Pudge, the Colonel, Alaska, and Takumi are caught smoking by the Eagle and sent to the Jury, a group of elected students who dole out punishment for less serious violations of school rules. Alaska attempts to take the fall for everyone, demonstrating her loyalty to the group, and in the end only the Colonel and Alaska are punished.

As promised, Alaska finds Pudge a girlfriend, Lara Buterskaya, to bring on a "three-and-a-half date" with Alaska’s boyfriend Jake, the Colonel, and Takumi. The date takes place at the Culver Creek basketball game against Harsden Academy, but it does not go well. Alaska refuses to allow Pudge to sit next to Lara and the Colonel taunts the opposing team’s star player – nicknamed the Beast – until the Beast hits Pudge with the basketball as they all run away from the giant player. Pudge spends the rest of his date at the hospital with Lara and Takumi after being diagnosed with a concussion. The Colonel attempts to distract Pudge from his current state by enumerating that his girlfriend Sara broke up with him, possibly for good. Although they did not get along, the Colonel mourns the breakup.

Three days after sustaining his concussion, a rainstorm begins and it continues to deluge for 10 days. During the rainstorm of biblical proportions, Pudge avoids Lara at all costs and is confronted by a moody Alaska. After Dr. Hyde hands out the final exam question: “What is the most important question human beings must answer?” (p.100) Pudge and the Colonel run into an enraged Alaska, whose room was ironically flooded by the Weekday Warriors. When the rain finally lets up after 10 days, Pudge and Takumi retreat to the Smoking Hole and Takumi reveals that Alaska was the one to rat out her former roommate. Takumi explains that only he knows it was Alaska as a warning to Pudge who will surely be dragged into the prank Alaska and the Colonel will plan to exact revenge on those who flooded Alaska’s room. Although he knows that Alaska was the rat, Pudge decides that he would still take the fall for his friends should they get caught in their next prank.

Analysis

This section of the book delves further into the theme of friendship. The ambiguity of Pudge’s relationship is made clear when Alaska defends Pudge from Dr. Hyde but simultaneously refuses to let Pudge help her through one of her negative moods during the rainstorm. His relationship with Alaska is further complicated when she sets up Pudge with Lara. While Pudge’s admiration for Alaska is made evident with his descriptions of her physical beauty and his resentment of her boyfriend, Alaska’s feelings towards Pudge are less clear. Their romantic ambiguity is a constant theme throughout the novel as Pudge is unsure how to deal with Alaska when she is in one of her moods and her disposition does not match up with Pudge’s imagined version of her.

Important to all of Pudge’s friendships at Culver Creek is trust. Alaska attempts to gain Pudge’s trust two times. First, she stands up for Pudge when Dr. Hyde reprimands him for not paying attention in class and again a second time when she takes the fall for the smoking incident in front of the Jury. Ironically, at the same time that Pudge begins to trust Alaska, Takumi reveals his own distrust in Alaska for ratting out her roommate. It is important to note that the build up of trust and revelation of truth happen before and after the great rainstorm. Just as rain washes dirt away, the rainstorm symbolically washes away all that clouds Pudge’s judgment about Alaska. The truth is revealed and Pudge decides that despite her flaw, he trusts her. This train of thought becomes a pattern for Pudge; despite evidence against her, Pudge overlooks Alaska’s flaws.

Although this section largely focuses on the development of Pudge and Alaska’s relationship, the Colonel’s outbursts at the basketball games also serve as a focal point. Unable to contain himself, the Colonel shouts insult after insult at the opposing basketball teams until he is eventually ejected at every game. It becomes a point of pride for the Colonel. Even though he is not popular, the Colonel manages to rally the entire school around him. In these instances, the Colonel is willing to forgo pranks and his hatred of the Weekday Warriors to be a leader of sorts.

An interesting consideration for the Colonel’s outbursts is that they are inline with his desire to subvert order. In the same way that the Colonel fights against the wealthy Weekday Warriors by pranking them, shouting abuses against the opposition is a way for him to fight against rules and to create disorder.

One of the most poignant moments in the chapter comes from Dr. Hyde’s admonishment of Pudge. Dr. Hyde uses Buddhist teachings as a way to try to engage Pudge in the present after he is caught daydreaming. The use of religious undertones comes from Green’s own background as a former priest in training. Although Pudge’s religious background is not an influential part of his life, Dr. Hyde’s lessons to make an impression upon him following Alaska’s death.