1. Caraphernilia (adj.) A broken-heart disease whenever someone leaves you but leaves all their things, and unwanted memories behind.

'She left me with caraphernilia'

2. A Pierce The Veil song

Sunshine, there ain't a thing that you can do that's gonna ruin my night.
(But, there's just something about)
This dizzy dreamer and her bleeding little blue boy.
Licking your fingers like you're done and,
You've decided there is so much more than me.
And baby, honestly it's harder breathing next to you, I shake.
I brought a gun and as the preacher tried to stop me.
Hold my heart it's beating for you anyway.

What if I can't forget you?
I'll burn your name into my throat.
I'll be the fire that'll catch you.
What's so good about picking up the pieces?
None of the colors ever light up anymore in this hole.

Nobody prays for the heartless.
Nobody gives another penny for the selfish.
You're learning how to taste what you kill now.
Don't mind me, I'm just reaching for your necklace.
Talking to my mom about this little girl from Texas.

What if I can't forget you?
I'll burn your name into my throat.
I'll be the fire that'll catch you.
What's so good about picking up the pieces?
None of the colors ever light up anymore in this hole.

Just give her back to me.
You know I can't afford the medicine that feeds what I need.

So, baby, what if I can't forget you?
(What if I can't forget you?)
Collide invisible lips like a shadow on the wall,
And just throw, oh no.
You can't just throw me away.

So, what if I can't forget you?
I'll burn your name into my throat.
I'll be the fire that'll catch you.
What's so good about picking up the pieces?
What if I don't even want to?

Oh, oh. Oh, oh. Oh. Oh, oh. Oh, oh, oh. Oh, oh. Oh, oh. Oh.

What if I can't forget you?
I'll burn your name into my throat.
I'll be the fire that'll catch you.
What's so good about picking up the pieces?
None of the colors ever light up anymore in this hole.

Just give her back to me.
You know I can't afford the medicine that feeds what I need.
So, baby, what if I can't forget you?
(What if I can't forget you?)
I'd better learn to live alone.

What's so good about picking up the pieces?
What's so good about? What's so good about?
What's so good about picking up the pieces?

"You can't just make me different, and leave.." Connections

Hello again, I feel like I may have gotten one of the best parts of the book to make connections on. Despite it being a tad bit sad, it's also beautiful. Before I read this quote, I had no words to describe being changed by someone you love, and that love leaves. I had no words. But Pudge gave me some.

   I stood up and stared down at him sitting smugly, and he blew a thin stream of smoke at my face, and I'd had enough. "I'm tired of following orders, a**hole! I'm not going to sit with you and discuss the finer points of her relationship with Jake, godda** it. I can't say it any clearer: I don't want to know about them. I already know what she told me, and that's all I need to know, and you can be a condescending p**k as long as you'd like, but I'm not going to sit around and chat with you about how godd***ed much she loved Jake! Now give me my cigarettes."

"You don't even love her!" he shouted. "All that matters is you and your precious f***ing fantasy that you and Alaska had this good***ed secret love affair and she was going to leave Jake for you and you'd live happily ever after. But she kissed a lot of guys, Pudge. And if she were here, we both know that she would still be Jake's girlfriend and there'd be nothing but drama between the two of you--not love, not sex, just you pining after like, 'You're cute, Pudge, but I love Jake.' If she loved you so much, why did she leave you that night? And if you loved her so much, why'd you help her go? I was drunk. What's your excuse?" The Colonel let go of my sweater, and I reached down and picked up the cigarettes.

So, the whole situation sucks there's all these emotions, which come with loss. Anger, bitterness, hate, angst, fear, sorrow, pain, aching, heartbreak, and just plain utter loss for words. Someone loving a taken dead girl does not want to hear about the relationship she had, which was not him. Pudge is stuck; he does want to know. But he also really doesn't. It's an even split. Either one of those 2 options leave scars. With what the Colonel says, I think that, Alaska loved multiple people and in different ways, after thinking long and hard about the way Alaska reacted to Jake and the words Pudge used to describe him, as Alaska most likely saw him...

I don't think she loved Jake. She loved the idea of him: a mature, model-esque, hot guy, who caters to her sure, and treats her like the most beautiful thing in the world. But when it came to Pudge, I think he was a bit of a mystery to Alaska as well. She knew boys like him, he was the typical inexperienced, a bit nerdy boy. She wondered why though. She had engaging conversation with Pudge, and shared her thoughts, her mind with him. Even though he didn't quite understand hers, she still showed him. Speaking about the Labyrinth, the book collection, the tragic losses in her life.

(p.172) I wondered if there would ever be a day when I didm't think about Alaska, wondered whether I should hope for a time when she would be a distant memory--recalled only on the anniversary of her death, or maybe a couple of weeks after remembering only to have forgotten.

With such mystery in a loved-girl, now stuck in death, does that wound ever scar? Or stay always? Being scratched at the seams and stitches, bleeding every so often. Perhaps silently, unnoticeably, but still bleeding.

(p.172) She made me different.

"You can't just make me different and then leave," I said out loud to her. "Because I was fine before, Alaska. I was fine with just me and last words and school friends, and you can't just make me different and then die." For she had embodied the Great Perhaps--she had proved to me that it was worth it to leave behind my minor life for grander maybes, and now she was gone and with her my faith in perhaps. I could call everything the Colonel said and did "fine". I could try to to pretend that I didn't care anymore. but it could never be true again. You can't just make yourself matter and then die, Alaska, because now I am irretrievably different, and I'm sorry I let you go, yes, but you made the choice. You left me Perhapsless, stuck in your good***ed labyrinth. And now I don't even know if you chose the straight and fast way out, if you left me like this on purpose. And so I never knew you, did I? I can't remember, because I never knew."

Pudge, doesn't know what's out "there" but his subconscious does hope she exists out "there" somehow. He saw the world, his life, society, emotions, love, friendship, and intelligence all differently. Because she gave him a part of her. But now it's almost as if he wants to tear it out, like it's burning him. She's not there to make the piece fit better. Now Pudge is left with a bittersweetly painful wound in his chest. That was not healed. That was not finished being"sewn" together. It turned to clumsy stitches with memories, thoughts, and lessons from her to scratch at the stitches on their ways both in and out. Pudge knew her pretty well, but he shouldn't beat himself up about it too much. I'm not so sure it was possible to even fully, completely know Alaska. My connection is Earlier in the the book she said the point was not to figure her out. With what Alaska had gone through, that was her defense mechanism. It's mine too. I often find myself saying after someone says, "I'm just trying to make sense of you or figure you out." That is the point. I don't want you to fully know me, It gives me an edge on everyone else. Alaska doesnt what people to see the darkest parts of her. Because she's a good actor, despite the demons she keeps. Connection: Like when she talks about her home life, she doesn't want others to see with their naked eye, the scars and wounds it left. Pudge said he feels different. And i've been there, exactly I don't know if anyone else has but I have.

With no closure, when a loved one leaves or "leaves", with questions unanswered and pieces of them you've now made into yourself. I found myself saying, you can't just change me, and then be gone. You cannot just switch pieces of yourself with some of mine. Because you no longer know what to do with the pieces that are yours, they sit and fester. They hurt they bleed. You forgot what you used and had them for anyways. And now there are holes where they took pieces of you. The ones you knew better. And your missing things. But you can't put a finger on what that actually is. I think  this is how Pudge feels.

Pudge and the Colonel are trying to figure out how drunk Alaska was that night (p.179) I wonder if Alaska was an alcoholic. Or a soon to be. She may have been the best drinker among them, but how and why did she get there? Because the Colonel has not reached the level of intoxication Alaska was at. And it isn't a "fun" drunk to them. What was it to Alaska? Did she enjoy being that drunk? Or did she do it to rid herself of the Labyrinth for a while?

I don't think Takumi, or the Colonel or Pudge ever fully knew Alaska, because she was a mystery. It's what made her so amazing yet was her protection as well. Their school life  and friendship was derived of solving the forever mystery of Alaska Young. However, it could not be done. But they still tried. And they all changed. Grew wiser, more confident.Despite her end "All" decision, she left the boys with wander of the world. Of life. While they may remain sad for now, I think they take Alaska's existence in their heads, and use it to get them by in life. That is my take, what are your thoughts?


Passages (Pg. 137-177)

Okay so from this point on, I'm not gonna be happy about the book, just because it gets so intensely sad, at least for me.  And, if anything, that's a compliment to the book, because it's a rare occurrence that an event makes me emotional, let alone a book.  But anyways, I'm gonna find a few meaningful passages and be done for the night.

So shortly after Alaska's death is announced to the whole school, Pudge is thinking to himself,
               "It's all my fault.
I thought. I don't feel very good.
I thought. I'm going to throw up." (Pg. 139)
Now, being that this is a one-way conversation, I don't know if any of you readers have experienced death, let alone a death of someone so, so close to you, but in my case, it's almost impossible not to blame yourself for it.  So to our dear readers, and to my fellow bloggers, please take a minute to remember those you've lost, give them another moment of your time.

"The whole passage was underlined in bleeding, water-soaked black ink.  But there was another ink, this one a crisp blue, post-flood, and an arrow led from 'How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!' to a margin note written in her loop-heavy  cursive: Straight & Fast."  (Pg. 155)
Not only is this quote Pudge & Alaska's "thing," but what she wrote after the quote has planted a thought much darker than death itself into the heads of Pudge and the Colonel.

"The Colonel sat down next to me in religion class, sighed, and said, 'You reek of smoke, Pudge.' 'Ask me if I give a s***.' [said Pudge]"  (Pg. 157)
We knew that the Great Perhaps, whatever it would be, was going to change Pudge for the rest of his life. Granted, grief, even a grief this strong, will fade eventually, but the bitterness is something that stays with you forever.

"I had wondered who called, and why, and what made her so upset. But I'd rather wonder than get answers I couldn't live with." (Pg. 160)
I think we all need to realize this.  Curiosity is one of the hardest things to fight in our human nature, but sometimes, I think, we need to step back and think about whether or not this is one stone we should leave unturned.

I know there's so much more we could talk about in these chapters, but I imagine that if you're reading this for the first time, you've got enough thinking to do without our help.  So I'll be seeing y'all next week for the final passage of Looking for Alaska!
Take care, everyone

Week 3 Summary (After-14 Days After)

Hey everyone! Not the brightest part of the book, but I'm here to post a summary.

This section starts with After. They wake up, the Colonel with a hangover, to the Eagle knocking on their door, which is unusual to begin with at Culver Creek. They are ordered to go to the gym, which they do after being reassured that they aren't in trouble but that something terrible happened. At first, they think Hyde has died. Pudge rather constantly brings up the fact that he made out with Alaska in disbelief. When Hyde appears at the gym, they begin to panic, soon realizing that Alaska isn't there. Pudge insists on waiting until Alaska gets there to start, but he soon realizes what has happened yet continues to beg the Eagle to wait.

The Eagle announces that Alaska died in an accident and Pudge flees the gym and throws up. He instantly begins blaming himself for letting her drive drunk and then convinces himself that she's alive and she's just playing a trick on them; this is the only way he can cope with her death. Pudge returns to the gym to see the Colonel screaming "I'm so sorry" over and over again and all of Alaska's friends mourning, or as he puts it, "disintegrating". The Eagle approaches Pudge and Pudge says that he thinks Alaska is pulling a prank, but the Eagle says that he saw her after she hit a police cruiser without swerving or braking and the steering wheel of her car went through her chest.

Pudge struggles with her death for quite some time. He focuses on the fact that she said "To be continued?" after she made out with him. He realizes that he will never know her last words, as the Eagle said her death was instantaneous. He hugs the Colonel for the first time and they mourn together.

Miles calls his parents and informs them of Alaska's death, as he just needs someone to pick up the phone. He then compares his loss to a man losing his glasses and being informed that the world has run out of glasses. It's a beautiful metaphor, as it perfectly describes both his fear and how irrational he believes the situation is.

Pudge and the Colonel continue to mourn as they see Alaska in everything around them at Culver Creek, such as bufriedos and cigarettes. They go through the stages of grief - especially denial and anger to start with. The Colonel leaves to go on a walk to nowhere in particular.

Various visitors try to comfort Pudge, but all he can think is that an instant of blinding pain doesn't feel instant, that none of these people really knew Alaska. Pudge comes up with a standard lie - that he and the Colonel hadn't seen her between going to bed and her death. Pudge ponders that he is in a love triangle with one dead side, given that he is still technically dating Lara.

Pudge has a nightmare about her a few days after her death. It starts off as a good dream, but he soon has to relive her death even though he never lived it.

The Colonel returns about two days after going for his walk. He had walked forty two miles each way, taking forty five hours. He walked until he got too cold and then came back without any sleep, admitting that he has dreams similar to Pudge's. The Colonel copes by memorizing the capitals and populations of all the countries in the world.

Six days after Alaska's death, the students of Culver Creek attend her funeral. Most take a bus, but Takumi, Lara, the Colonel, and Pudge take Takumi's car to avoid the spot where she died. They finally begin to progress to the later stages of grief, somewhere between acceptance and depression for a while. Pudge laments the fact that she has a closed casket funeral and that he will never see her again. It was Alaska's request - her mom had an open casket and she didn't want them to see her dead.. Pudge admits that he loves her present tense and he ponders whether death is worse than his position.

Pudge and the Colonel have to return to Alaska's room to get anything they don't want her aunt to find. Pudge tries to find The General in His Labyrinth, which was Alaska's favorite book, and he keeps it. Near the quote "'How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?'", Alaska recently wrote "Straight and fast", which leads them to speculate that she may have committed suicide. They are both depressed by her unfinished Life's Library - one garage sale to another, ashes to ashes.

They return to school the next day and the Colonel and Pudge have to deal with the everyday trials of school without Alaska, which includes several students mourning her when they hardly knew her. In religion class, Dr. Hyde brings Alaska's question of how to get out of they labyrinth into class.

The Colonel then comes up with a theory, which basically is that Jake calls and they have a fight about her cheating, so she rushes off campus to drive to Nashville and reconcile the relationship. A few miles in, she sees the cop car and she realizes how she's going to get out of the labyrinth and kills herself. Pudge is convinced that this is ridiculous, but it's the best explanation they have. They come up with a game plan to figure out what happens, but Pudge doesn't really want to go along with it - he's too depressed. The Colonel makes him, though.

They go to the police department to talk to the police officer who saw her die and he says that he's never seen someone so drunk that they didn't even swerve. He affirms that Pudge won't get any last words and that her blood alcohol level was .24 (3 times the legal limit for adults in California). He also reveals that she had white flowers in the backseat - the same flowers she got from Jake, or so Pudge assumes. The cop convinces them that it definitely could have been a suicide. The section ends with Pudge just wanting to let her remain dead and not turn her into a selfish b*tch, but the Colonel insists on continuing the search and Pudge grudgingly agrees, ending the section.

Well, long summary. Hope I covered everything!


Week Three Discussion (Audrey)

Hello, everyone! Another week, another section, and this week I'm here to lead the discussion!
So, to quickly recap, Alaska was killed in a car crash, and now Pudge and Colonel are going about their time grieving and looking for answers as to what happened to her.

Now I have some questions for you.

  • What do you think happened to Alaska? The Eagle said there was a jackknifed car and that she ran into it. Was she asleep? Was she drunk and her motor skills were hindered? Was she suicidal? I'm curious to see what you think. John Green himself said he doesn't know what happened, so I know everyone's opinion will be different and there are no wrong answers.
  • What is the symbolism behind the "straight & fast" note in Alaska's book? Why did she write it in after her room was flooded?
  • Pudge makes a lot of remarks on page 156 about why Alaska would have killed herself. ("About hurting me? About wanting me and not him?"/"...not thinking of her promise to me, not thinking of her father or anyone, and that bitch, that bitch, she killed herself.") Is this justified? Explain.

Week 2 Discussion

Hello again friends, 
 My fellow John Green lovers and I have completed another week of reading. We've read pages 73-118. A lot of new things have come to light in this section. Especially about Alaska, but about the rest of the characters as well. We're given more clues about Alaska's past and of the themes throughout Looking for Alaska.

  • John Green makes a metaphor between rain, drizzle, and a hurricane: "So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane." What is so significant about this quote?  What does it tell us about Alaska? What does it tell us about Pudge, and what does it tell us about the two of them together and compared?

  • A lot of the poetry and quotes, and the things Alaska says about herself have reoccurring theme/s. What is/are they? Why? (Depression, love, sadness etc)

  • How does Alaska feel about Pudge? How would you describe her feelings for him as compared to her boyfriend? What makes you say that? 

  • Why do you think "The Night Of" she suddenly left? What was Alaska doing? What was going through the Colonel's mind and Pudge's when they let her go? 

  • Was there any foreshadowing to Alaska's death?

Let me know your thoughts,

Connections! (Pg. 55-AFTER)

Hey guys! It's Scott again, now, as the Connection's MASTER, I can't promise I'll do quite as good a job as Kathy, but I'll do what I can... for your sake!

Now, when last we saw dear Pudgie, he received one of the most heartbreaking anticlimaxes in literature history.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I've definitely been a part of such devastating events, and trust me, it's horrible. When you get so close to something that you're almost certain it's going to happen.  It's going to be such a big thing that once it happens, life will never be the same again, and everyone will be so happy! And- and- and... and...... oh, wait it's not actually gonna happen? Well okay that's cool too. (P.S. not cool too)

 Then, our poor friends have broken one of the schools main rules, NO SMOKING ON CAMPUS. Now sure, they've all smoked on campus time and time again, but what made this time so "special" was they were finally caught by the Eagle himself.  There was a short exchange between him and the group, they were all sentenced to meet in "jury" and he was gone (after Alaska picks up the half burnt cigarette and smokes it a bit more in defiance).  We all have an Eagle in our life right? That one guy (or girl) for whom we're always looking over our shoulder whenever we're doing anything remotely against the rules, a "big brother" so to speak.  But I've never really seen the Eagle to be an antagonist to be honest, or even my Eagle.  Both in the story and in real life, I know that they're busting whoever they can because they're simply trying to keep the law, not because they're out to get me or anyone else for that matter.

Have you ever had a friend, or anyone really, try to set you up with someone?  Weird right?!  Even if you know the person, you feel like if the relationship works out then you're going to be indebted to them forever on any relationship matters.  When Alaska begins to talk about getting Pudge together with Lara, all I can think is, "Oh man that's gonna be super weird... Lara's all accent-y, and Pudge really loves Alaska, so it's gonna be all love triangle-y... aww man."  Now, what does that have to do with any connections to the real world? Well nothing really I just wanted to bring that up.

Oh my gosh the "triple and a half date" (pg. 60).  So there's Pudge with Lara, Alaska with what's his face, and the Colonel with Sarah... and Takumi can come too.  Pudge is there to be set up with Lara, but the entire chapter he's really only talking about how much he's suffering seeing Alaska with what's his face!  I have been in this situation so many times, and if you tell me you haven't you're a dirty liar.  Whether you're with someone else or not, we've all had to hang around as the third wheel with the person we really want to be with, because you'll do anything to be near them. Sure that's a bit sappy but it's true.

(Pg. 67) P.S. I don't care who you are, you use your language class as space out time.

(Pg. 72-73) Ever been told a secret, like a groundbreaking secret?  One that you know if you told someone else you would ruin everything? 'Course you have, this is life we're talking about.  I mean, I'm 16 and I already have things I'm taking with me to the grave, and then Takumi has to go and tell Pudge that Alaska, poor sweet (marginally insane) Alaska, ratted out Marya.  Alaska told Takumi who told Pudge who couldn't tell anyone!!

Guys it happened! Thanksgiving eve! Oh these chapters yes! (Pg. 80) So Pudge and Alaska are alone once more and they just have the best of times! Alaska gets to drink some wine, Pudge gets to look at Alaska, Alaska gets to sabotage WW's, Pudge gets to look at Alaska, Alaska figured out what the labyrinth is, Alaska goes porn hunting, ....Pudge gets to watch some porn, Alaska (somewhat) admits that she likes Pudge!!!! Okay okay okay, I need to relate some things here.  We know (we allllll know) that Pudge loves Alaska, and now we know that Alaska likes Pudge, and they just get to spend all of this perfect alone time together and they're just happy and ugh!  When you're with the one you love,but you're not "with" them, you're just happy to be there right?  You're not obligated to be the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend and you can just truly be yourself because what's the harm right? That's what we see here, pure, untainted friendship with just a kick of something more.

(Pg. 92-98)  Now, I'm not a very popular guy (you can trust me on that), but even I've been invited to a friends house had had to say "yes"" out of fear of hurting their feelings.  Granted Pudge and Alaska  were invited to the Colonel's so they were all close friends and no one was "offish" at that point so there was really no awkwardness, but we all know that Pudge and Alaska would've been just fine together... alone.

Okay so now we get to the pre-prank! (I'm not gonna site the pages because this kind of goes everywhere (and you should know what I'm talking about (assuming you read the book like a good little soldier))). If you as me, this would definitely go under Mile's category of the Great Perhaps.  All of his friends got together, did something they reeeeally shouldn't have, and Pudge got a little sleeping bag action.  Whether you've had your Great Perhaps or not (I'm pretty sure I haven't (if I had I'm gonna be really sad)), you will and you'll remember it for the rest of your life, so make sure it's a good one.

Okay, I'm not happy about this, and if you we're, get out now please.   "The Last Day" chapter (Pg. 125)... Pudge was right there, he finally had Alaska, sure she was drunk but that just makes it easier to do the things that you've wanted to do but wouldn't let yourself (for whatever reason that may be).  They were making out (on a dare but still, I'm counting it) and we all felt that moment of bliss, it was pure happiness, and you thought that nothing could go wrong ever again (sounding familiar? (if it isn't then look at the first connection again)) and- and- and-... wait, she's drunk, and VERY upset about something... and she's getting into a car. Not to point out the obvious, but foreshadow city b**** foreshadow-shadow city b****.  I know you all read past that chapter, if you didn't then you're not reading correctly, please see a manual to commence proper reading techniques.  Anyway, it's hard to relate to a situation like this, I really hope none of you were put into this kind of situation, but if you were, I'm really sorry, and I'm really hoping that you got your senses and took control of the problem that was made to self destruct. But, I feel that there's a lesson to be learned from this, a morbid lesson, but a lesson none the less.  If you're feeling happy, in one of the happiest moments in which you've ever been, check your situational surroundings. Think about what could go wrong to ruin it, get a clear head, and do what you need to to contain that beautiful happy moment.

So just like last week, I'm almost out of time, and I'm about to pass out from exhaustion.  Thanks all for taking the time to go through this blog, I think I speak for everyone who's a part of this when I say we'll make it through this Labyrinth of John Green... some day.

See y'all later.

Week 2 Passages

Hi everyone! Kathy here with passages from pages 56-110!

First and foremost, this section was super important to character, relationship, and plot development in general. Along with that comes some really great passages and quotes. The one that caught my attention most was:

Just like that. From a hundred miles an hour to asleep in a nanosecond. I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not f*ck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane. (88)
This passage is extremely important to the development of Alaska and Pudge's relationship. It shows how unattainable he thinks she is and how highly he thinks of her. It's an illusion that she's putting up for him, in my opinion, and it's going to break. What do y'all think about this, specifically what it says about Alaska's character and Pudge's idealization of her?

Bonus passage! You don't have to think as critically about this one. I just wanted to include it, as it is also important to Pudge and Alaska's relationship, which is a critical theme for both the book and this section in particular.
Her hand just above my knee, the palm flat and soft again my jeans and her index finger making slow, lazy circles that crept toward the inside of my thigh, and with one layer between us, God I wanted her. And lying there, amid the tall, still grass and beneath the star-drunk sky, listening to the just-this-side-of-inaudible sound of her rhythmic breathing and the noisy silence of the bullfrogs, the grasshoppers, the distant cars rushing endlessly on I-65, I thought it might be a fine time to say the Three Little Words. And I steeled myself to say them as I stared up at that starriest night, convinced myself that she felt it, too, that her hand so alive and vivid against my leg was more than playful, and f*ck Lara and f*ck Jake because I do, Alaska Young, I do love you and what else matters but that and my lips parted to speak and before I could even begin to breathe out the words, she said, "It's not life or death, the labyrinth." (81-82)
So I included this because it, too, is incredibly important to Alaska and Pudge's relationship, especially Pudge's side. I'd just like y'all to think about it, but not necessarily speak to it directly in your responses.


Week Two Summary (Audrey)

Another week has gone by and it's time for another round of posts. We're coming up on a crucial part of the book soon, and are going to stop just before the event happens. Last week we left off when Pudge was "pranked" by being duct taped and thrown into a lake, and Alaska promised to avenge him with an even more elaborate "pre-prank" that would get back at those who pranked Pudge.
But before we get to that, there are some other important parts to the story.
One night Alaska comes to Pudge's room sobbing, explaining rather vaguely about how she'd fucked up and she would never forgive herself. Pudge tries to console her and she tells him, "Don't you know who you love, Pudge? You love the girl who makes you laugh and shows you porn and drinks
wine with you. You don't love the crazy, sullen bitch."
The chapter leaves off there, and soon the students leave for Christmas break. Pudge recieves a wallet and a watch from his dad, and he talks about how his father never really gets sentimental.
The night began with Takumi, Colonel, Lara, Alaska, and Pudge, as they planned their adventure in a barn the night before, drinking cheap wine and smoking.
Their plan included leading their principal out of his house with fireworks while Lara put dye in the prankers' hair gel and Alaska and Colonel changed their grades. They go back to their hideout in a barn out back and have drinking games, discussing the best and worst days of their lives. Pudge and Lara make out in the middle of the night and agree to being an item. Of course, they suffer the inevitable hangover the next morning and return to life as normal.
Later on Alaska, Pudge and Colonel play a game of Truth or Dare on the grounds that Pudge had never played, and Alaska winds up daring him to hook up with her. So they did. And apparently it was awesome.
Alaska receives a call from Jake later that night. She becomes extremely distraught and begs her friends to help her leave. Pudge and Colonel are loyal friends and do not question her, distracting the principal while Alaska escapes.
And that is where we leave off. Alaska is gone, Colonel and Pudge had fallen asleep, and no one really knows what Alaska is up to.
Until next week.

LfA Discussion Questions (Pg. 1-55)

Hey everyone, Scott here.

So as discussion leader this week, it is my job to get us readers really thinking about what the characters are going through, what John Green is trying to get us to think about, to feel, and learn.

In the very beginning of the story, it's easily evident that there isn't much going for dear old Pudge.  His social school life is almost nonexistent, he's done nothing "out of the ordinary," he simply hasn't found his Great Perhaps.  He decides to leave his home for a boarding school to finally begin his story, his Great Perhaps.  Very soon into this venture, he meets the Colonel (and then Alaska who sells the pair a pack of cigarettes).  They leave to the edge of the beach and the Colonel offers Pudge a smoke.  After only asking if the area was safe, he participated in smoking his very first cigarette.  Now, for someone who's kept his nose clean his entire life, why would he now choose to do something that is frowned upon by so many.  Why wouldn't he just do things like this when he was going to his regular school?  And what is it about the Colonel that Pudge trust so much, so quickly, that he would loose his smoking virginity with him?

Now we have the issue of Pudge's intense initiation. In the middle of the night, Pudge is grabbed (as the Colonel waves them off with a "have a good time"), dragged to the beach, duct taped, and then thrown into the water.  After escaping the life-threatening conundrum, Pudge goes to Alaska for an explanation, who waves him off as well saying that she had real problems to deal with, and that he should simply buck up.  This reply sends Pudge into an "I hate Alaska" spiral for days on end, but we all know that he still loves her and still craves her approval above everyone else's. "'She's cute,' I thought, 'but you don't need to like a girl who treats you like you're ten: You've already got a mom.'" (pg. 34)  So, this next question is something that I've wondered about myself as much as Pudge, why are we so drawn into loving the one person we know we shouldn't?

So now we meet Sara, the Colonels (rather uptight) Weekday Warrior girlfriend.  From what we know so far, (and also in relation to the previous question) why on Earth would the Colonel be with Sara?  She is almost exactly the type of person against whom he is constantly preaching; she's a WW, she's somewhat of a b****,  and she makes him wear "fancy" dress clothes when they go out on dates, or at least the one in this chapter.  So why her?

Ah the clover search!  The first time, I believe, Pudge and Alaska were alone together after the initiation incident. They both get kicked out of class by the Old Man for disrupting the lecture, and Alaska takes Pudge on a wild four leaf clover hunt.  This event was a win-win-win, (triple win!) Alaska found her clover, Pudge got to *cough* further appreciate female anatomy, and there was once again peace between the two polar opposite personalities, triple win.  Shortly after, the group rejoins and heads down to the smoking hole where they were, surprise surprise, smoking.  After a short discussion of trying to deduce who ratted out Marya, Pudge noticed how quickly Alaska was going through her cigarettes where she "smiled with all the delight of a kid on Christmas morning and said, 'Y'all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.'" (pg. 44)  This quote is quite famous between the readers of this book, with what we know, why would you suppose that is?  

Once this passes, in my opinion, nothing ground breaking happens.  That's not to say nothing important happens, not at all.  We get so much character development, the Colonel loves breaking the peace by getting kicked out of basketball games, Alaska is a math whiz who shares her knowledge with others at McDonald's, but then we get the T.V. room.  The chapter starts with how Alaska became known as Alaska, then, after a joke about Pudge's lack of math skills, there is that deafening silence between two people feeling romantic pressure.  Pudge kept leaning in closer and closer, we as the readers kept thinking "Finally! Finally! Yeah Pudgie!!"  ..... But then Alaska snaps out of it, and goes on this tangent about how she won't get stuck thinking about the future.  Total anticlimactic genius on Green's part, total alien noises of the broken heart from us readers (don't deny it, you know made the noise).  Finally, from what we know now, how could Alaska continue to tease poor dear Pudge in such a tormenting fashion, when it's clear that she likes him as well.  Sure she "loves" her boyfriend, but if she knows she feels this way about someone else, if she knows that part of her wants to be with someone else, how could she say she loves her boyfriend?

That's all the time I have today, fellow readers, please take my opinions with a grain of salt, but take these questions with like... 12 grains.  Because these are 12 grain questions man!

See you all next week!

The Eloquent John Green

Hi again guys,
              I'm going to keep this really short and sweet. John Green really does have a way with words, it's not very often that I read a word and do not "know" it. Sure, I can infer what it means by the context it's in. I'm going to quote the excerpt a word was used in, and define it.

The Colonel laughed. I stared, stunned partly by the force of the voice emanating from the petite (but God curvy) girl and partly by the gigantic stacks of books that lined her walls. Her library filled her bookshelves and then overflowed into waist-high stacks of books everywhere, piled haphazardly against walls. If just one of them moved, I thought, the domino effect could engulf the three of us in an asphyxiating mass of literature.

asphyxiate: suffocation

"Who's the guy that's not laughing at my very funny story?" she asked.
"Oh, right. Alaska, this is Pudge. Pudge memorizes people's last words. Pudge, this is Alaska. She got her boob honked over the summer." She walked over to me with her hand extended, then made a quick move downward and at the last moment pulled down my shorts.
"Those are the biggest shorts in the state of Alabama!" "I like them baggy," I said, embarrassed, and pulled them up. They had been cool back home in Florida. "So far in our relationship, Pudge, I've seen your chicken legs entirely too often," the Colonel deadpanned. (15)

deadpan: can be compared to sarcasm; to say something amusing with a serious expression.

Week One Passages

Good Evening! Week one has come to a close, and it is my job as "Passage Person" to find meaningful, difficult, or interesting quotes and talk about them here. What better place to start than with one of the most commonly recurring themes-- the Great Perhaps.

"Hold on," I said. I went into Dad's study and found his biography of Frangois Rabelais. I liked reading biographies of writers, even if (as was the case with Monsieur Rabelais) I'd never read any of their actual writing.
I flipped to the back and found the highlighted quote ("NEVER USE A HIGHLIGHTER IN MY BOOKS," my dad had told me a thousand times. But how else are you supposed to find what you're looking for?).
 "So this guy," I said, standing in the doorway of the living room.
"Francois Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were 'I go to seek a Great Perhaps.' That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps."
Miles' obsession with last words has consequently made him fascinated with death. Later in the chapter, Chip's roommate comments on a poet's last words that Miles recites-- "That's morbid. I like it." Death becomes a common theme within the book -- mostly within discussions between the characters.

"No drugs. No drinking. No cigarettes." As an alumnus of Culver Creek, he had done the things I had only heard about: the secret parties, streaking through hay fields (he always whined about how it was all boys back then), drugs, drinking, and cigarettes. It had taken him a while to kick smoking, but his badass days were now well behind him.

Someone who's familiar with the book would know the significance of cigarettes and the symbolism it represents in Looking for Alaska. Later in the chapter, they come up again (being sold/smoked by Alaska and Colonel), describing the very thing Miles' father told him not to get involved with. Ironically, it accounts for almost all of his character development.

Alaska is heavily involved in both of these themes --smoking and death-- and references both of them in one of the book's most famous and well-known quotes; "Y'all smoke to enjoy it, but I smoke to die." 

Until next time,

Week 1 Connections

As we wrap up the first week of this project, it is my job to connect pieces of this story to real life. Right off the bat, Looking for Alaska is a young adult, realistic fiction novel. Much of it relates to general coming-of-age tales and as such there are abundant connections to be made.

The book starts out with our protagonist Miles leaving home. Instantly, there is a connection. We will all leave home eventually to seek our "Great Perhaps", as Miles eloquently puts it. And, in a sense, the overarching theme of leaving one life behind for another can apply to each and every middle college student. At around 16, each of us chose to change schools and find our purpose elsewhere, although we all still live at home. Despite the differences between our situation and Miles's, the gist is the same.

Unfortunately, I can relate to the lack of success of Miles's going away party in the first chapter, although not to the same extent he can. Many times I have tried to throw parties with limited success - his general unpopularity is something that many of my peers as well as fictional characters have in common.

Throughout this first section, we find Miles making overlying generalizations about people and life that aren't necessarily true. For example, Miles states that "Marie was the sort of person to guess a lot," (4) which implies that a) Marie falls into a category of people who b) all have a tendency to guess a lot. This is reminiscent of The Catcher in the Rye, as Holden tended to make similar generalizations.

Miles breaks the rules about as often as they're laid out for him. His dad told him to not highlight books, but he entirely disregarded that. His dad also tells him to not do drugs, drink, or smoke, but he smokes on his first day there and picks up the habit fairly quickly. His tendency to disregard the rules is something we see frequently in society as well as in literature. I know several people who don't even make an attempt to follow the rules; this is often associated with the belief that the rules just don't apply to oneself. In Miles, however, this belief is not prevalent.

The feeling of self doubt Miles experiences in his first few days at Culver Creek mirrors a feeling most of us feel as we come of age - that we don't belong, that we won't fit in, that we made a mistake. The fact that it begins to turn out for the better is simply a part of life.

I'm not entirely sure if it's my place to point out literary allusions, but there is an allusion to Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening", which can be found here if anyone wants to read it.

Each character seems to have a specific hobby, which border on obsession. For Miles (now nicknamed Pudge), it's learning and memorizing the last words of famous people. For Chip (the Colonel), it's naming countries. For Alaska, it's reading - her massive collection of books, only one third read. Although they may be more subtle, most people have an "obsession" that may or may not be worth a lot in the real world, but nonetheless makes them unique. Mine is reading, although unfortunately I have very little time for that. For one of my best friends, it's making cosplays (costumes of fictional characters such as superheroes and Disney princesses). These "obsessions" can be seen throughout the world if you get to know people closely enough.

Cliques are a big thing at Culver Creek. Whether you're a regular boarder or a Weekday Warrior makes a huge difference in your social status at the school. There are similar distinctions in real life, although they tend to revolve around intelligence and hobbies more than economic status. At my old school, I was one of the band kids, which put me in a lower social status the same way Miles's status is lowered due to his regular boarder status.

Irony is a big theme, as Miles's nickname is Pudge despite his skinniness. This ironic nicknaming is a trope that is often used in pop culture. In Les Miserables (yes, I just went from "pop culture" to referencing a book from the 1800s...), Cosette is one of the central female characters, although her real name is Euphrasie. Her mother chooses to call her Cosette, which in French means "the indulged". However, Cosette spent much of her childhood in an abusive situation - most certainly not "indulged" - but her abusers continue to call her Cosette. Another example is Robin Hood, in which Little John is not very little (at least by many interpretations).

I would like to note, before I make this point, that I do not smoke. That being said, the portrayal of Pudge's first cigarette is, from what I can interpret and observe, very realistic - generally speaking, one's first smoke isn't graceful or classy.

The parallels between how Culver Creek operates and how most schools operate is fairly accurate. The school doesn't want to lose students or look bad because then they'd lose money. Most real schools try to look as good as possible because if they don't they'll get a bad reputation and lose money, which will only lead to a worse reputation.

The idea that you don't retaliate or tell on someone who bullies you at Culver Creek is very realistic. In most situations, if you retaliate against a bully, you'll be the one who gets in more trouble. Conversely, if you tell a teacher about a bullying situation, you'll get a reputation as a snitch or a rat.

The trio of the Colonel, Pudge, and Alaska as best friends with some romantic tension between two of them is very commonly seen in literature - especially with the two males and one female aspect, as seen with Harry, Ron, and Hermione in Harry Potter, or with Sherlock, John Watson, and Mary Morstan in BBC's adaptation of Sherlock. In general, three is a culturally significant number.

The quick bond Pudge and Alaska form is something I've experienced firsthand. I met my boyfriend at a summer camp and within a day we were essentially best friends. Fast-forming friendships are something that happen quite a bit in real life as well as in literature, such as with Harry and Ron on the Hogwarts Express in their first year.

This is a somewhat less serious connection, but the fact that "You can say a lot of bad things about Alabama, but you can't say that Alabamans as a people are unduly afraid of deep fryers," (22) is entirely true - my boyfriend recently moved from California to Alabama and has mentioned that he's never seen so much fried food in his life.

Pranks in boarding schools are essentially old hat. They're such a cultural "norm" that, even if there isn't actually that much pranking in real life, we just assume that there is.

The question of the labyrinth, posed by Alaska, and how it relates to religion is something that nearly all humans ponder - if there is a way out, if there's life after death, and the nature of death in general. The idea that religion is just as important as history is one that is not common, but it does make a good point. Similarly, the revelation that a myth is just a traditional story that tells of a people and their worldview (and not just a lie) is an important distinction that everyone has to make at some point, as our culture tends to use "myth" as synonymous with "falsehood".

Alaska's outburst that the Colonel is "'...not going to impose the patriarchal paradigm on [her]'" (34) reminds me of something I would say, as I tend to oppose the patriarchy just as Alaska does. In this way, I and several of my classmates are very similar to Alaska, although I have never met anyone who is truly like her.

The realities of relationships and fights within relationships is something we all, just like the Colonel, experience, despite the fact that movies often make relationships out to be either entirely unhappy or entirely happy. In fact, there is an in between, and in that way there is a major connection to the real world.

The teenage hormones Pudge experiences throughout the novel are familiar to nearly every one of my classmates - the realization that Alaska is beautiful, that curves are important, that he just wants someone to make out with, the internal glee at being called "adorable" by a girl he likes, etc. are just parts of being a teenager and are all things that I've either experienced myself or one of my friends has told me they experienced.

Alaska's suicidal nature (which comes along with her mysterious character) is something that I have unfortunately experienced. I have had several friends come to me saying that they want to end their lives. Personally, I've had some suicidal thoughts, but nothing to be worried about. In a way, they're a side effect of thinking too much about the inevitability of death, which is something that I do sometimes and is also something that Alaska does.

Well, 1500 words later, I think I'm done for this week. Apologies for how excessive this was - I ended up going into a lot more detail than I intended.


98 Days Before...

Hello! To finish off the first week of reading and blogging, I'm going to summarize the section we all just read. Miles began the book, with not having many friends. However, despite Miles' parents' realization of his lack of friends, they ask why he wants to goto a new school: Culver Creek. Miles has a love for last words, and explains that Francois Rabelais was a famous poet whose last words were, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." When he arrives at Culver Creek, he meets his new roommate, Chip Martin. Whose nickname is the Colonel. The Colonel explains the "rules" of the school; Weekday Warriors are the rich cool kids. The Colonel is not one of them, and advises Miles to not to go along with him.But, Miles is not. Miles is one of the others. The Colonel gives Miles the                                           nickname Pudge. Ironically, Pudge is extremely thin. It also comes to our attention that most of the students like Pudge and Miles are extremely intelligent. Pudge finds himself being accepted and is learning what that means. He's used to being quiet, and a bit of a loner, but suddenly he has friends who have his back, and give him confidence. Pudge meets Alaska, a girl who is not only beautiful and smart, but sexy. She's confident and a little bit eccentric. Smoking is also a major trend at the school. Takumi, is also a new friend of Pudge's. Pudge is experiencing friendship and life at a boarding school. Which include pranks and the unspoken rule of no snitching. Payback is returned as revenge, a lesson Pudge learns the hard way when an innocent prank turns to anger and he's duct-taped together and thrown into the lake. Alaska introduces a question asked multiples of times within the work: "How will I ever get out of this Labyrinth?" as well as leaves questions about her past for Pudge. She show's a darker side of her personality when she explains that "she smokes to die".  Pudge is exposed to teenage angst and rebelling, as well as discovers that basketball is one of the very few entertaining things there. Major themes within this section are coming of age, attraction, the mystery of life, and friendship.
Until next post,

Week One Blog Roles

Role 1: Scott
Role 2: Kathy
Role 3: Audrey
Role 4: Autumn

Insert Witty Title Here

Hello from Kathy, Autumn, Audrey, and Scott! We will be reading Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. We all appreciate John Green’s works and want to analyze them in more detail, as he tends to hide symbolism and overarching themes throughout his books. Both the Fault In Our Stars and Looking For Alaska are critically acclaimed and are being added to the curriculum of some high school English classes. Looking for Alaska is about 17 year-old Miles “Pudge” Halter who leaves home in Florida for a boarding school in Alabama in order to find his “Great Perhaps”. It’s a coming of age novel of sorts, but it brings more modern themes to the table. The Fault in Our Stars is about 16 year-old Stage IV thyroid cancer patient Hazel Grace Lancaster, who meets and develops a relationship with 17 year-old osteosarcoma survivor Augustus Waters and discovers that, in spite of her illness, she can love and find a little infinity despite the terminal nature of her illness. John Green has a beautiful way with words and relating to his readers; as such, we feel that critically reading his novels will provide excellent opportunities for developing a deeper understanding of young adult fiction. We feel that by analyzing these novels, which both have overarching themes of love, life, death, and “coming of age”, we will have a stronger grasp on reality, the world we live in, and that there is love, little infinities, and a Great Perhaps even in the darkest times.

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