Study Guide

Looking for Alaska Mortality

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Looking for Alaska has death running through it: Miles is obsessed with last words, Alaska's mom's death is the central moment in her life, Alaska herself dies, and jokes about death are tucked in amongst the banter (flamingo tie anyone?). You can find death on pretty much every pageā€¦ but the book's not all about death. Mortality gives Alaska a vivaciousness that draws her friends to her, and Miles and the Colonel come to some pretty important conclusions about mortality of a physical person and of the person's spirit after Alaska dies. So even though death is a central idea in the book, it's inextricably tied to life and hope.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Is Alaska aware of her own mortality? Does she think of death in the same way as Miles does? Why or why not?
  2. Are Miles, the Colonel, and Takumi guilty of helping Alaska die? What makes you say this?
  3. How do you think Alaska would react to her own death?
  4. How does Miles balance his beliefs about death and his hope about life and life after death in his final essay for the Old Man?

Chew on This

Alaska's last words are not worth knowing.

Miles will never forget his friend Alaska; he will always love her.

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