Looking For Alaska Questions How One Person Can Impact Our Lives

Ashley Kim, Writer

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“I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”

These last words of French poet Francois Rabelais is what main character and narrator Miles Halter is thinking of as he leaves Florida for Culver Creek Boarding School for the very first time. And he does find an adventure–with his roommate Chip Martin, aka “The Colonel,” who radiates confidence despite living in a trailer, with the cool as a cucumber Takumi Hikohito (who can rap really well), and of course, Alaska Young herself, the wild, crazy, clever, funny, sexy, complicated mystery.

And Miles is intent on figuring her out. He relishes her topsy-turvy ways and her witty talk. He feels like knowing who Alaska Young truly is might be so close to finally being achieved.

As I read through Miles’s countless conversations, hilarious narration, and intellectual ponderings, I realized that we all feel his sadness, his happiness, his confusion, his awkwardness. I began to see myself in Miles, and I’m pretty sure that any teenager will too.

Green’s writing is relatable and easy to understand. Sure, it’s first person, so we don’t hear anyone else’s point of view except for Miles, but I think that it’s more than enough. That’s because he writes about things that everybody experiences. We can all remember a funny prank or a first crush or a strange obsession with something.

But we feel and experience all of these things because people are with us. These people may be our family, our friends, maybe an extracurricular group at school like the band or the cheer squad or the football team. That’s truly what John Green wants us to understand–that one person can impact our lives so much. Using Miles’s infatuation with Alaska, Green shows how people can affect others.

So you’re probably thinking right now–okay, we affect other people. So what do we learn from that?

Green emphasizes how someone can change another in some unimaginable ways, so try to be positive. Maybe a smile or a wave can inspire people to be more positive. Or helpful, for that matter. Or, in fact, any other positive character trait–from honest to kind to loving. That’s how you change people for the better.

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