John Green’s 2006 novel Looking for Alaska personally affected me as I could relate to one of the main characters Miles (Pudge). The theme of belonging was also very relevant as this novel touches on the concern of Miles fitting into his new school and finding out how everything works at Culver Creek Preparatory. I directly can relate to Miles in this sense as I am still new and am trying to figure out how my new school works and also finding a friendship group that I am comfortable in.
This novel is great because it raises questions about individuals understanding of true friendship, love, loyalty and having a sense of belonging. It shows the importance of truly living life to the fullest rather that just watching it fly by. The conflicts within the characters themselves lead readers inward to examine how much everyone needs a sense knowing where we belong. Pudge buys the cigarettes to show that he can be a part of his new friendship group’s crowd.
A certain amount of peer pressure was probably involved, with Pudge worried about ‘fitting in’ and making friends. “The Colonel talked me into paying five dollars for a pack of Marlboro Lights I had no intention of ever smoking. ” I think that by Miles giving into this peer pressure he would hope that it would make him feel more normal and apart of that what his friends were partaking in. The use of first person narrative point of view allowed me to experience things as Miles does.
It gave me a deeper understanding of how he is affected by people, events and his own reactions and feelings as the novel progresses. This is no more clearly seen than in the event of Alaska dying, I was limited to Miles’ own feelings and emotions surrounding her death. The idea of guilt and loss becomes apparent as we see him struggle to deal with her death and the role he played in it, with him trying to figure out where he belongs. He experiences a loss of innocence as he is forced to re-evaluate his philosophy on life and find his own place in the world.
Alaska’s death aids in Miles’ coming-of-age journey. “I felt the total loss of her, still reeling from the idea that she was not only gone from this world, but from them all” This can be very relatable for other audiences who might have suffered a great loss like Miles’. Looking for Alaska depicts many messages about one’s vital need to belong, some of which I can personally relate to. As well as other aspects of the novel that other audiences can personally relate to.