Sunday, February 12, 2012

Discussion for Looking for Alaska

So, these are some questions posted on the back of the book. I will give them a try although I have to say all these are mere opinions from me, a non-literature major people; hence, bear with it.

1. Discuss the book’s unusual structure. Why do you suppose Green chose this strategy for telling his story? How else might he have structured the same material?

My attention was caught at the structure of ‘before’ and ‘after’ of the story. In my opinion, that structure was strategically put to focus the whole story on that one event, Alaska’s death. Although, at some point, I do agree that the ‘before’ part was quite lengthy compared to the ‘after’ part. I was sort of expecting the ‘after’ part to be more detailed in how Miles was going to ‘look for Alaska’. Nonetheless, the current structure could do good as with the detailed ‘before’, we could understand how attached it is of Miles to Alaska, emotionally. And that is very good to explain the ‘after’.

2. Miles tells the story in his own first-person voice. How might the book differ if it had been told in Alaska’s voice or the Colonel’s? Or in the voice of an omniscient narrator?

I would say that if it was not told from Miles’s voice, it would had a whole lot of different feel. Maybe, if it was from Colonel’s, then there will be a certain similarity of the emotions for a friend loss. But, Miles’s attachment to Alaska was very different from Colonel’s, so Miles’s voice was suitable as he could portrayed the very first hand experience of the whole incident, the confusion from a guy who came to find his Great Perhaps. However, if it was to be Alaska’s voice, the whole story would have no meaning at all because her character was supposed to stay mysterious. It’s the layers of curtains between each of them, the unknown that drives the story for its own Great Perhaps.

3. The Colonel says, “Everybody’s got a talent.” Do you?

I believe I do, and maybe I’m still finding it. That’s when you need a Great Perhaps, I guess?

4. Miles’s teacher Dr. Hyde tells him to “be present”. What does this mean?

For me, I would think it was a sense of being in the class, listening, understanding and absorbing.

5. John Green worked for a time as a chaplain in a children’s hospital. How do you think that influenced the writing of Looking for Alaska?

I would think his narration of the Eagle was a softer character because of that. He left the Eagle some dignity rather than displaying him as a figure of stern, cruel and everything. It might not be a direct thing, but maybe it gave him that idea…

6. What do you think “The Great Perhaps” means?

It’s like a Eureka moment? Nope, it’s a less certain thing than that I think. Sort of, maybe there are things in your life which you would go on and ask, “I will do something and PERHAPS something would be different.” And the Great Perhaps was when you really go and do that something and gotten something out of it. It is just a possibility, but a good kind of possibility. (I’m not even sure what I’m talking now – maybe I’m just not good at expressing it…)

7. And how about Bolicar’s “labyrinth”?

I had many versions of my believed labyrinth. One of it was like the one mentioned in the book. Though, I was not much a fan of understanding suffering because instead of wishing to walk out a maze of suffers, I could let go pretty easily. But I could understand how human do get lost in the labyrinth of their life. Some of them try to cheat, some of them try to give up; but my opinion was, IT IS JUST A MAZE, JUST CONTINUE WALKING IT AND FEAR NOTHING! Yeap, that’s it.

8. In the “Some Last Words on Last Words” section at the end of the book, Green writes, “I was born into Bolivar’s labyrinth, and so I must believe in the hope of Rabelais’ ‘Great Perhaps.’” What do you think he means by this?

It sounded as if Green did put in a bit of himself in it, doesn’t it? He might have his own labyrinth and his own Great Perhaps.

9. Has this novel changed the way you regard human suffering? And death?

Fairly speaking, nope. I had my own personal experiences to guide me in a deeper sensation in that aspect.

10. One of the characters, Dr. Hyde, says, “Everything that comes together falls apart.” Do you think the author agrees? How does he deal with this Zen in his novel?

I’m not sure about Green, but Miles did, I think. Just by this ‘We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.’, it gave an extra view though. Everything eventually dies, but not everything.

11. Alaska loves these two lines from the poet W. C. Auden: “You shall love your crooked neighbor/With your crooked heart.” What do these lines mean to you and why do you think Alaska likes them so much?

I sort of sees that as a  perfection of imperfection. Just because someone is imperfect, doesn’t mean him/her shouldn’t be loved; just because your love is imperfect, doesn’t mean you can’t love him/her. I think Alaska likes them, though, was with her perception of herself. She sees herself as a negative thing, being unable to call 911 for her mother when she was dying. But she still loved her, although her love for her mother was not perfect nor did her mother was perfect for her to be loved.

12. Miles writes, “Teenagers think they are invincible.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

It depends. Many teenagers felt they were invincible because they could do so much more that they haven’t gone through things that stop them down, fearless of anything.

13. Was it necessary for Alaska to die?

I would say it was as strong point to bring Miles to what is he called his Great Perhaps. If that hadn’t been happening, Miles would be stuck at his early stage of growing up.

14. This novel is filled with wonderful characters. Who is your favourite? Why? Do you know any people like these characters?

Although Takumi had appeared at an obviously lower frequency in the book, I think I like his character. Dr. Hyde was another one. Reasons of favouring these figures, plenty!

15. Can you imagine Miles and the Colonel as adults? What might they be like? What professions do you suppose they might choose?

Interestingly, I could. Though that would be according to what they’ve got so far in the book. We never know what will happen in their lives after this book which might change their life furthermore. But this incident had became some kind of fixed point that brought them to a proper grow up, a true thought about life and relationship rather than just at the skin level. As in what profession will they in doesn’t really matter except that I would imagine Miles to become a autobiography writer and Colonel to become some kind of leadership figure, although he did need to improve a bit for that.

And yes, these are my answers!

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