Discussion Leader - Part 4, Looking for Alaska

Kathy here to lead discussion about the last part of Looking for Alaska.

  1. Was Alaska's death a suicide? Note that this is not a yes or no answer. You have to give reasons for your answer.
  2. Is 'the labyrinth' a relevant concept in day to day life and how, especially as teenagers? Do you believe that forgiveness is truly the answer?
  3. How does Pudge's character develop as a result of Alaska's death? Is this a coming-of-age novel?
  4. BONUS QUESTION: Do you see any symbolism in the knock knock joke Alaska tells Pudge earlier in the story (the one where she tells him to start it)?

I hope these questions will lead to further insight! Happy reading TFiOS beginning this week!



Autumn Skye said...

It certainly is not a yes or no answer. However, I'm not sure I could pick yes or no and then explain. Because frankly, I'm not sure. Alaska was extremely intoxicated. According to the Colonel, "Not fun drunk". It could be that Alaska's upset state of being in addition to her degree intoxication that caused her to swerve. Or, when Alaska was in such a state with her degree of emotional pain, guilt and grief she felt, she made an impulsive decision (Classic Alaska) and decided to get out of the Labyrinth "straight and fast" and aimed for her shot "out" of it.

Often people say "That"s life" which I think is a concept of the Labyrinth, life is full of ups and downs, there's a lot of suffering. Things don't always go our way, terrible things happen we can't try, the good do in fact die young, sometimes we love and the love is not returned, and sometimes we're scared. In order to survive in the Labyrinth you must forgive. Forgive yourself for your flaws, forgive someone when they do not love you, forgive others' flaws, it is the way out. Forgiveness. Acceptance. Is how you live in the Labyrinth.

Pudge is forced to grow up much faster than originally. He becomes wise the hard way. So many life lessons from one huge blow to his heart. Losing both love and a friend. I find myself saying people become wise in terrible ways. Something that impacted someone in an earth shattering way: heartbreak. loss. This results in someone who has words of encouragement and life lessons, yet doesn't advertise why they would know such a thing. Alaska created a Pudge with her in him. She will always be part of his past that he hides. Like she hid the pain from her mom's untimely death, he'll hide hers.

Audrey Lu said...

I think the whole point of not knowing Alaska's death is to wonder whether it was or not, to leave the reader tormented by it like Pudge was. In my opinion, I said no. Just because if you look at Alaska closely, she has a lot to live for. Friends, her life library, all of the things she wanted to do. I don't think she'd just drop all of it and choose to die.
In elementary school we did a labyrinth walk in our church once-- our teacher had us walk around the labyrinth pattern on the floor and think about our lives. I think it's a pretty similar idea-- people try to go through mazes all their lives, thinking about who they are and why theyre stuck, sometimes it's easy, sometimes they hit a dead end. Life is just a big maze and we have to navigate it.
It's not exactly a coming of age novel, but that is a good way to put Pudge's transformation. After all, he came to the school to grow up a little bit, didn't he?

Kathy Z said...

Regarding question 1, John Green says he doesn't know if it was a suicide or not. He never intended it to be one way or the other. That's the beauty of the book. :)

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