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,


Scott Dietzler said...

This is definitely one of the more famous quotes in the book, and I really think that's because when you truly love someone, you can't help but feel like he/she is way out of your league, like they are so much more than you are, like you're drizzle and he/she is a hurricane.

Alaska's character in and of itself will always be somewhat of a mystery, at least to us readers. Whenever we interact with her in the story, she will always say/do something that just leaves us hanging, wondering more and more about her. (If you can't already tell, I'm kind of in love with her character) We already know that she has some of the most random and dramatic mood swings we've seen in a story, and whenever these occur, she is just so down on herself, that depression almost doesn't cut it as good enough of an adjective.

When she and Pudge spent Thanksgiving Eve with each other, they shared a very beautiful moment together where they touched on a very special (at least between the two of them) piece of philosophy, and then she admitted that she was suffering to be in love with her boyfriend (whatever his name is, I don't care about him enough to remember) who was miles and miles and miles away when Pudge is right across the hall. So it's evident that she want's to be with him, but she can't bring herself to end it with what's-his-face.

At least at this point, we don't know what caused her to bolt like that, drunk out of her mind and in the worst depressive state we've ever seen her. At the time, I'm sure that Pudge and the Colonel were so shocked and panicked by her behavior that they just wanted her to be okay, to do whatever it was she asked of them so she'd be happy. But now, as we know, hindsight can be very cruel.

It honestly never occurred to me how dangerous it was to be doing what Alaska was. I feel like I was in the exact same mindset as Pudge and the Colonel. But the second the narration mentioned, (to paraphrase) "we never thought to say, 'don't drive, you're drunk.' 'Whatever you're doing, it can wait, everything can wait.'" My heart just sank as I read those words because I then knew what was going to happen.

Kathy Z said...

Many apologuez for typoz. My cat uz zttng on my good keyboard.

The quote tells us most about how flawed Pudge's view of Alaska is. It's almost a glamorization of depression, but it is so obvious that this flawed worldview is going to come crashing down, as it does.

Essentially, Alaska is severely depressed. This is a major theme of the book, and for the most part one can interpret her quotes and actions as being almost entirely depression. Her highs and lows are part of the disorder (I've experienced similar firsthand) and unfortunately very few fictional stories about depression have happy endings.

I have mixed feelings about the Alaska/Pudge relationship. She obviously at least lusts after Pudge. However, I wouldn't write off her feelings for Jake as nonexistent and their relationship isn't there only because she doesn't have the guts to break it off. She doesn't want to break it off. Jake has probably gone through the best and worst of times with Alaska. He's probably been there for her in her highs and lows and she can't help but want to keep that. I would if I were in her position, and I have been. And it's a very hard place to be. You crave affection that just can't be portrayed over webcam, texting, etc. Pudge is right at hand and she either loves him or is simply projecting her feelings for Jake onto him. Personally, I suspect the latter.

All speculation... It could have easily been guilt. She could have been going to see Jake so that she realized how stupid she was being with the whole Pudge thing and distanced herself from the whole situation. If I were here and I were in that state and I had the ability to run off and go see my boyfriend, I sure as hell would. However, what caused the state is a mystery.

Well, the whole book is foreshadowing, as I've mentioned before. Unfortunately, books that involve clinically depressed characters, especially in the John Green universe, hardly ever end well. Alaska is a beautiful character and Pudge's idealization of her was still littered with evidence of her depression, of her ill judgement. Something was bound to happen, unfortunately.

End note: As I go back and read the book again, I realize exactly how much I am like Alaska and I fear more and more that I will face a fate similar to hers. Whether this fear is rational or not... I can't say. Her personality just happens to be similar to mine, although we have different ways of coping.


Audrey Lu said...

Pudge has some self esteem issues, as most teenagers do, and he reveres Alaska as an awesome force to be reckoned with, beautiful but at the same time dangerous and unpredictable. She represents an almost suicidal generation, although she is perky and outgoing, she has several bouts of depression and bitterness towards the world. She is two sides to an extreme coin, but both sides represent a strong and intense passion.
Passion itself is a massive theme in the book; Alaska's passion for reading, Colonel's passion to help his mother, Pudge's passion for Alaska herself. Pudge is in love with the side of Alaska that she described, "the girl who makes you laugh and shows you porn and drinks wine with you.", not the depressed person she is when alone.
Alaska tells Pudge he's in love with the idea of her, not all of her. She likes Pudge but does not seem to think of him as a boyfriend, more like a confidant she can tell secrets to without worrying that he'll rat on her or judge her.
Colonel and Pudge do not question Alaska. They think she knows what she is doing (as she always does) and let her go without expressing doubt or caution. They trust Alaska more than they worry about her, and, in a way, it contributes to her death.
Alaska's death was foreshadowed in several places, including one of the most popular quotes that accurately describes her in many ways-- "from a hundred miles an hour to asleep in a nanosecond”-- personally my favorite one, if you can call it that.

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