Miles doesn’t have any details about the prank, and the Colonel and Alaska ignore him all week long. Miles uses the time to work on his religion paper. He answers his question about death by focusing on Muslim and Christian ideas of heaven and hell and the Buddhist doctrine of anatta, which holds that humans do not have “eternal souls.” This idea says that when people die, their energy is passed on to other people until eventually the energy reaches enlightenment.
Miles’ questions about what happens after death will turn out to be useful to him in only a few days, when he must confront an actual death. As the novel progresses, the foreshadowing increases, and there continue to be signs that something bad is in Miles and Alaska’s future.
Instead of writing a more academic conclusion to his paper, Miles decides to talk about why he thinks people care about what happens when we die. He attributes this fascination to a need for security. People don’t want to imagine their family or themselves as ceasing to exist. He decides “people believed in an afterlife because they couldn’t bear not to.”
Not having had a close friend or family member die, Miles imagines that it is unbearable to consider a loved one rotting in the ground with no hope for another life. Even in considering death, Miles maintains his belief that the future can hold great things.