Study Guide

Looking for Alaska Last Words

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Last Words

Miles is obsessed with last words of famous people. He says,

It was an indulgence, learning last words. Other people had chocolate; I had dying declarations. (128before.52)

These last words have more meaning for him than what many people think last words mean. He explains to Lara (after she asks):

"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. Does that make sense?" (thelastday.45)

We think it does. Miles likes last words because they let him know in shorthand how a person lived and died—which makes his not-knowing Alaska's last words even more devastating. Miles uses the last words of people to give closure to biographies and to their lives. But with Alaska, he needs to find closure another way. (Check out his analysis in the "Characters" section for how he starts to do this.)

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