Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

Themes and Colors
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
Mischief Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Looking for Alaska, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Mystery and the Unknown Theme Icon

Mystery is at the heart of this novel—so much so that it is embedded in the structure of the book. Rather than separating the novel into chapters, Green sections his book into days, each of which is titled with a number of days and the word “before” or “after.” For example, the first section of the book is called “one-hundred thirty-six days before.” Before what, however, is not made clear to the reader until two-thirds of the way through the book.

Just as the mysterious structure of Looking for Alaska makes the novel intriguing, mystery is an intriguing part of Miles’ life as well. At the book’s beginning, Miles decides to move to Alabama to seek his “Great Perhaps.” He is excited about the mysteries that await him, and he immediately becomes obsessed with understanding Alaska, who is a mystery herself. But while Alaska’s active cultivation of a mysterious air does make her interesting to others, she suffers because of it. She is not willing to let others in, and is afraid for others to see the horrible person that she thinks herself to be. As a result, Alaska prevents her friends from getting to know her as well as they want to. Indeed, Miles and the Colonel let her drive away on the night of her death because they do not realize how upset she is, or that it is the anniversary of her mother’s death.

Only once Miles gives up trying to figure out Alaska and her death can he finally see Alaska for what she really is: a mystery that is not meant to be answered. Further, when he stops chasing after Alaska, he is once again able to pursue his own Great Perhaps. Ultimately, Miles is okay with not knowing exactly what happened to Alaska because it doesn’t matter what happened. The solutions to mysteries aren’t always important. Miles realizes that whether or not she killed herself, he still loves her and cares about her and believes that her spirit lives on. For him, that is enough.

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Mystery and the Unknown ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Mystery and the Unknown appears in each chapter of Looking for Alaska. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Mystery and the Unknown Quotes in Looking for Alaska

Below you will find the important quotes in Looking for Alaska related to the theme of Mystery and the Unknown.
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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4. One Hundred Twenty-Six Days Before Quotes

“I must talk, and you must listen, for we are engaged here in the most important pursuit in history: the search for meaning. What is the nature of being a person? What is the best way to go about being a person? How did we come to be, and what will become of us when we are no longer? In short: What are the rules of this game, and how might we best play it?”

Related Characters: Dr. Hyde (The Old Man) (speaker)
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

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29. Two Days Before Quotes

“Best day of my life was January 9, 1997. I was eight years old, and my mom and I went to the zoo on a class trip. I liked the bears. She liked the monkeys. Best day ever. End of story.”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker), Mrs. Young
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

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30. One Day Before Quotes

“Pudge, what you must understand about me is that I am a deeply unhappy person.”

Related Characters: Alaska Young (speaker), Miles Halter
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

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31. The Last Day Quotes

“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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33. Two Days After Quotes

“And now she was colder by the hour, more dead with every breath I took. I thought: That is the fear: I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it. It is fear like if someone lost his glasses and went to the glasses store and they told him that the world had run out of glasses and he would just have to do without.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

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56. One Hundred Eighteen Days After Quotes

“So we gave up. I’d finally had enough of chasing after a ghost who did not want to be discovered. We’d failed, maybe, but some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved. I still did not know her as I wanted to, but I never could. She made it impossible for me.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:

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“But we knew what could be found out, and in finding it out, she had made us closer—the Colonel and Takumi and me, anyway. And that was it. She didn’t leave me enough to discover her, but she left me enough to rediscover the Great Perhaps.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Chip Martin (The Colonel), Alaska Young
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:

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59. One Hundred Thirty-Six Days After Quotes

“I would never know her well enough to know her thoughts in those last minutes, would never know if she left us on purpose. But the not-knowing would not keep me from caring, and I would always love Alaska Young, my crooked neighbor, with all my crooked heart.”

Related Characters: Miles Halter (speaker), Alaska Young
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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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