The most important excerpts
A particularity of the novel Looking for Alaska by John Green are the many quotes from famous people or from famous literary texts. These quotes show the thoughts and beliefs of the characters. They illustrate each character's view of life. The motto for Miles' character is the quote by François Rabelais, "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." (p. 10) (see Themes: The Great Perhaps).
The plot as a whole is commented on and discussed through quotes of famous people's last words. Since last words are Miles' hobby, these quotes come to his mind at important moments. He discusses his own view of things by these quotations. For example, he counters the last statement of Meriwether Lewis: "I am not a coward, but I am so strong. So hard to die" (p. 134), thinking that not only dying is hard, but it’s also hard to be the one left behind. (p. 134)
After Alaska tells her friends about her mother's death, Miles thinks of the last words of the 25th American president, William McKinley, "We're all going" (p. 109). From this quote, Miles elaborates on his thoughts about how people must realize at some point in their lives that everyone they love, as well as themselves, must die (p. 110).
Alaska's guiding quote is the last words of Simón Bolívar, as portrayed by Gabriel García Márquez: “How am I going to get out of this labyrinth?” (p. 22)
Above all, these two quotes, attributed to Miles and Alaska, mark the text and illustrate the two characters. Miles, who has been an outsider and loner until now, is looking for something bigger and exciting in his life. He wants to experience something and enjoy life.
On the opposite side there is Alaska, who has already experienced great s...