The more time Miles spends at Culver Creek, the more comfortable he becomes with mischief. At the beginning of the novel, he is extremely upset when Dr. Hyde kicks him out of class for looking out the window, but by the end, he is blatantly coordinating and participating in a prank against the school. At one point, Alaska tells him that mischief will always win out over good deeds, and Miles learns that misbehaving at least makes life more exciting, because you never know what will happen next. Even the Eagle appreciates Miles’ newfound willingness to get into trouble, to a certain extent at least, because he recognizes how well the prank Miles and the Colonel play captures Alaska’s mischievous spirit. The mischief Alaska encourages also forges bonds among her friends, making them very loyal to one another. They do not want to get caught, and as a result, they grow closer by looking out for each other and doing their best to make sure no one gets in trouble.
While Alaska’s insistence on breaking the rules loosens Miles up a bit and encourages him to live more freely, Alaska takes mischief to the extreme. Indeed, she uses her mischief-loving personality as a cover for how reckless she really is. The night she dies, her decision to sneak off campus is not inspired merely by wanting to break the rules. Instead, she leaves because she does not value her own life enough to stop herself. Alaska can be wild and fun, but she can just as easily be destructive and dangerous. When she dies, Miles and the Colonel feel so guilty and ashamed that they behave recklessly, too. The Colonel, for example, smokes in front of a police officer even though he is clearly too young to do so. By the end of the novel, however, the Colonel and Miles value themselves enough to behave responsibly, while still having fun and pulling pranks. Green doesn’t try to instruct his readers to always follow the rules—instead he demonstrates that breaking the rules can be fun and worthwhile, but also can have dangerous consequences.
Mischief Quotes in Looking for Alaska
“Anyway, when you get in trouble, just don’t tell on anyone. I mean, I hate the rich snots here with a fervent passion I usually reserve only for dental work and my father. But that doesn’t mean I would rat them out. Pretty much the only important thing is never never never never rat.”
“Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.”
“Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war.”
“Goddamn it! God, how did this happen? How could she be so stupid! She just never thought anything through. So goddamned impulsive. Christ. It is not okay. I can’t believe she was so stupid!”