Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska 41. Twenty Days After Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Colonel brings up calling Jake again, and Miles still refuses to participate in the call. The Colonel tells him he can’t figure it all out without him, and Miles yells back that he doesn’t want to know anything about Alaska and Jake. He asks the Colonel to give him his cigarettes, but instead the Colonel grabs him and screams that all Miles cares about is his fantasy relationship with Alaska, and doesn’t actually care about the real Alaska at all. He says that they both know Alaska never would have left Jake and that everything would have ended in horrible drama. The Colonel asks Miles why he didn’t stop her from leaving if he loved her so much. Miles stares at the Colonel and calmly says, “Fuck you.”
This is the most heated exchange in Miles and the Colonel’s entire relationship. Neither of them are fundamentally angry with one another, but their grief over Alaska’s death is so intense that they take their sadness out on each other. Miles asks for his cigarettes, which suggests that he wants to escape from the moment, but the Colonel insists on calling Miles out on his behavior. The Colonel upsets Miles so much that Miles responds as if he actually hates the Colonel.
Themes
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Miles goes to the Smoking Hole and screams at the top of his lungs about everything that has happened. He’s mad at the Colonel for being condescending, and also mad that the Colonel is right. Miles knows that he does wish Alaska had left Jake to be with him. He wants “to be the last one she loved.” He is furious with her for abandoning him and furious with himself because he believes that if he had been good enough for her, she never would have left.
Finally, the reason Miles insists on his fantasy relationship with Alaska becomes more clear. He does not simply wish he could be with her—he feels that if he were good enough for her, she wouldn’t have driven away that night. He not only feels guilty for letting her go, but also for not enticing her enough to make her stay.
Themes
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
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Miles wonders if he should hope that he can forget Alaska and not have to think about her every day. He thinks to himself that she is the reason he changed when he got to Culver Creek. Everything was fine until he met her, and then she became his Great Perhaps. Now she has left him “Perhapsless” and “stuck in [her] goddamned labyrinth.” He thinks that maybe he can’t remember Alaska correctly because he never really knew her. He decides that before he can move on, he needs to get to know her. He needs to know the how, why, when, where, and what that she always refused to answer.
Miles accepts the fact that he is going to need to know more about what happened that night, even if he suspects that he will not like what he hears. He is stuck in a paradox, or a contradiction, in which he must get to know Alaska better in order to be able to forget her. In accepting this, Miles already knows Alaska a bit better than he did before. For the first time, he starts to understand her labyrinth of suffering.
Themes
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Memory and Memorial Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon