Takumi guilt trips Miles into talking to Lara by asking how Miles thinks Alaska would react to the fact that he has completely ignored Lara. Miles isn’t sure about this, but Takumi tells him he’s going to want to remember his first blow job fondly. This convinces Miles, and he goes to see Lara later that afternoon. He apologizes and she forgives him even though her roommate, Katie, tells her not to do so. Katie knees Miles in the balls and then announces that she forgives him too.
Memory is a powerful thing in this novel. It potentially brings about Alaska’s death, and causes Miles to get stuck in a fantasy relationship. In this instance, it is the memory of something fun rather than sad or mysterious that prompts Miles to act. He has enough sad memories, and he doesn’t want to spoil this good one.
Miles and Lara walk to the lake. He tells her as much as he can about what happened on Alaska’s last night and what he and the Colonel have learned since. He explains to her that ever since Alaska died, it’s felt like he’s doing something wrong if he thinks about anything or anyone else. Lara tells him this isn’t a good excuse, but she forgives him anyway.
Lara was Alaska’s friend too, and Miles abandoned her in a time of need, but Lara forgives him anyway. This decision to forgive is very different from the vengeful way in which conflicts between students at Culver Creek were handled in the past.
That evening, Lara, Takumi, the Colonel, and Miles each throw a cigarette into the Smoking Hole, which is actually more like a fishing hole, in memory of Alaska. Miles likes that this feels like a ritual because he likes “the idea of connecting an action with remembering.” He imagines that Alaska would be grateful for the cigarettes they give her.
Earlier, Miles could not imagine Alaska in any sort of afterlife, much as he wanted to. In this moment, however, he feels a connection with the rituals that other religions use to deal with death, and is finally able to imagine Alaska looking down on him.
The group works on making a list of the evidence for and against Alaska’s suicide. They decide that the white flowers were not in Alaska’s car as a way for Alaska to memorialize herself. Takumi repeats that he doesn’t want answers, and Miles finally understands that he does not “have a monopoly on Alaska”—she mattered to everyone else, too. The group struggles to make much more headway, and the Colonel announces that someone else needs to come up with something because he is out of ideas.
Now that the group has forgiven each other, they are able to work together on solving the mystery of Alaska’s death. In doing this, Miles finally understands how self-obsessed he has been and how much everyone else cares about Alaska too. His friends are not his competition—they are his teammates.