Jan. 18, 2015
Looking for Alaska When negative decisions are made, people have the opportunity to either forgive themselves or to not forgive themselves. By choosing to forgive, they escape the constant cycle of suffering. If they choose not to forgive, they are stuck in a continuous circle, also known as the labyrinth of suffering. Being able to forgive is so important because everyone makes negative decisions at some point in their lives. No matter how minor those decisions, in order to stop the constant suffering, forgiveness is needed. In the book,
Looking for Alaska, Miles, Takumi, The Colonel, and Alaska are all teenagers at a boarding school. They are all thrown into the labyrinth of suffering completely unwillingly. The negative decisions each of them makes are different, but how, or if, they get out of the labyrinth depends on whether or not they are willing to forgive themselves and others.
Looking for Alaska, by John Green, illustrates how negative decisions put people into the labyrinth of suffering and in order to get out they have to forgive.
As stated on the website, http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/guiltshame ,
“Guilt can be used to influence people to do both good and bad positive and negative.
As with any tool, it is important that it is used appropriately and responsibly.” Alaska does not use guilt responsibly. Instead of feeling guilty for all of the negative actions or
decisions she has made, than forgiving herself and making things right, Alaska keeps her guilt bottled up inside of her, never sharing her feelings with anyone. Her life is caught in the labyrinth of suffering.
The first example of Alaska feeling guilt is when she rats out Paul and Marya.
One night, Alaska was trying to sneak off campus to see her boyfriend. She was very careful, headlights off, driving slow, but the Dean of Students, nicknamed ‘The Eagle,’ still caught her. To make matters worse, she had a bottle of wine in the back of her car.
She was considered, ‘fatally busted.’ The Eagle told Alaska, “Either tell me everything you know or go to your room and pack up.” (Green, 73) Alaska made the decision to snitch. She chose to rat out Marya, her roommate, who she knew was drunk, naked, and in her bed with another guy. She knew that Paul and Marya’s friends would never suspect her, and she was right. Her guilt continued to build.
The second and most predominant reason for Alaska’s guilt is her mother’s death. When Alaska was only six years old she arrived home from school, gave her mom a hug, and went to do homework. A few moments later her mother experienced a massive aneurysm. Alaska ran into the kitchen and found her mother on the floor. “She was lying on the floor, holding her head and jerking.” (Green, 119) Alaska, like any other traumatized child, never thought to call 911. “So I just sat there on the floor with her until my dad got home an hour later, and he’s screaming, ‘Why didn’t you call 911?’ and trying to give her CPR, but by then she was plenty dead.” (Green, 119) At first, Alaska’s father blames Alaska for her mother’s death. Alaska is never able to forgive herself.
Another smaller, but still important reason for Alaska’s guilt is how she handles her relationship with her boyfriend Jake. During a game of Truth or Dare between
Alaska, The Colonel, and Miles, Alaska dares Miles to hook up with her. He accepts her dare and the two of them make out untill Alaska abruptly falls asleep. When she wakes up three hours later, she experiences a massive panic attack. While the book never explains exactly why Alaska has this attack, one of the reasons may be the realization of what she has done with Miles, which creates even more guilt.
The final cause of Alaska’s guilt is forgetting to drop off flowers at her mother’s grave. Every year on her mother’s birthday Alaska picks flowers and then drives to her