Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

Last Words Symbol Analysis

Last Words Symbol Icon
For much of Looking for Alaska, Miles thinks of last words as a way to encapsulate the way a great person lived, and he memorizes many famous people’s last words. Like the Buddhist koans Miles learns about in his World Religions class, these last words seem like guides on how to live life. Miles maintains his love of last words after Alaska’s death, but he ultimately has to accept that he will never know hers. What he has, instead, are Alaska’s lasting words: “To be continued?” Miles points out the difficulty of preserving people’s last words when their death does not seem imminent, and he realizes that last words are not necessarily people’s most important words. By the end of the book, last words come to symbolize the many different ways one could choose to live, but they do not provide any definitive answers. By letting go of Alaska’s last words, Miles learns to live with ambiguity and ultimately comes to enjoy the fact that he does not know what’s coming in his own “Great Perhaps.”

Last Words Quotes in Looking for Alaska

The Looking for Alaska quotes below all refer to the symbol of Last Words. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Speak edition of Looking for Alaska published in 2008.
1. One Hundred Thirty-Six Days Before Quotes

“François Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were ‘I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’ That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker)
Related Symbols: Last Words
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

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2. One Hundred Twenty-Eight Days Before Quotes

“That’s the mystery, isn’t it? Is the labyrinth living or dying? Which is he trying to escape—the world or the end of it?”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker), Miles Halter
Related Symbols: Last Words, The Labyrinth
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

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31. The Last Day Quotes

“But a lot of times, people die how they live. And so last words tell me a lot about who people were, and why they became the sort of people biographies get written about.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker)
Related Symbols: Last Words
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

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“This is so fun…but I’m so sleepy. To be continued?”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker), Miles Halter
Related Symbols: Last Words
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

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32. The Day After Quotes

“I know so many last words. But I will never know hers.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young
Related Symbols: Last Words
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

59. One Hundred Thirty-Six Days After Quotes

“So I know she forgives me, just as I forgive her. Thomas Edison’s last words were: “It’s very beautiful over there.” I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young
Related Symbols: Last Words
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

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Last Words Symbol Timeline in Looking for Alaska

The timeline below shows where the symbol Last Words appears in Looking for Alaska. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. One Hundred Thirty-Six Days Before
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
...in fact going “to seek a Great Perhaps.” Miles loves reading biographies and learning people’s last words , and this phrase comes from the last words of François Rabelais, a French poet. (full context)
2. One Hundred Twenty-Eight Days Before
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...Miles struggles to come up with an answer, but eventually says that he knows people’s last words . (full context)
7. One Hundred Nine Days Before
Identity Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
...refuse. Finally, the Colonel makes him a deal: if Kevin can pick a president whose last words Miles doesn’t know, he’ll agree to a truce. Kevin chooses Millard Fillmore, and Miles responds... (full context)
17. Sixty-Seven Days Before
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
It finally stops raining, and Miles sits outside thinking about the last words of Civil War commanders. Takumi finds him and the two go down to the Smoking... (full context)
31. The Last Day
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...Then Lara does homework while Miles reads a biography. Lara asks him why he likes last words so much, and Miles realizes that he has never thought about it. (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Memory and Memorial Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...tells Lara that the way people die is often indicative of the way they lived. Last words give him a lot of information about how someone ended up being interesting enough to... (full context)
36. Seven Days After
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Miles turns to the general’s last words and is surprised to find the words “Straight & Fast” written beside the question about... (full context)
39. Thirteen Days After
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Mischief Theme Icon
...so drunk that they didn’t know to swerve. Miles asks if the officer heard Alaska’s last words , but he tells them she was dead by the time he made it over... (full context)
45. Twenty-Nine Days After
Loyalty and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...she could come back and marry Miles and have genius kids who knew poetry and last words . Miles is offended, and Takumi tells him that he is sick of Miles acting... (full context)
How to Live and Die Theme Icon
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon
Memory and Memorial Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...wasn’t paying attention for most of it. Miles thinks to himself that no one remembers last words when you don’t know the person is about to die. The group decides that something... (full context)
59. One Hundred Thirty-Six Days After
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
...them and he forgives everyone else. He finally accepts that he will never know her last words and thoughts. He realizes that he will love her forever, despite the fact that he... (full context)
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
...only change shapes and sizes and manifestations.” Miles ends his essay by quoting Thomas Edison’s last words , “It’s very beautiful over there.” He says that he’s not sure where Alaska is,... (full context)