Miles attends his first class at Culver Creek and is surprised to find that all of the girls wear pajamas to class. He is overwhelmed by Madame O’Malley’s French class and worries that his school in Florida didn’t prepare him for Culver Creek. Alaska ignores him, and Miles feels conflicted about his feelings toward her. She is smart and beautiful, but she seems to have a mean streak. For the rest of the day he is stressed by how smart the other students and teachers seem, and he struggles to find his way on campus.
At this point in the novel, Miles struggles with the unknown. He is attracted to Alaska’s mysterious nature, yet also repelled by how unpredictable she can be. Even though last night he went to sleep excited by the future’s uncertainty, he spends the next day wondering if he should have stayed in Florida—because he is not certain that his future will contain good grades.
Later that day Miles attends World Religion class. The teacher, whom the students call the Old Man, announces that the class will be dedicated to the exploration of “the most important pursuit in history: the search for meaning.” This phrase makes Miles think of Alaska’s labyrinth. Miles likes the Old Man and looks forward to being taught and lectured to rather than having to have class discussions. During class, the Colonel figures out that the other person who threw Miles into the lake was Longwell Chase, a Weekday Warrior who is friends with the Colonel’s girlfriend, Sara. Alaska complains to Miles about the Old Man, whose real name is Dr. Hyde, but Miles tells her that the Old Man is a “genius.”
Although Miles’ World Religions class is dedicated to studying the mysteries of life, Miles feels relieved to be taught facts about these mysteries rather than be expected to discuss them himself. Even though he spends a great deal of time thinking about how to live, from memorizing last words to pursuing his own Great Perhaps, he is too shy to discuss his thoughts. He does, however, stand up for Dr. Hyde when Alaska complains about him.