The novel Looking for Alaska, a book written by John Green is a story which is told in first person narrative form the form of the main character Miles Halter. Looking for Alaska takes place in a boarding school named Culver Creek Preparatory. John Green uses a variety of techniques such as symbolism, metaphors and dialogues in order to explore the ideas that developing friendships and building connections with others is essential for personal growth. Similarly, the idea that change is necessary in order to understand and to become familiar with oneself is also expressed through the use of a variety of techniques.
John Green uses a range of literary techniques in order to indicate to the reader that developing friendships and making connections is essential for personal growth. At the beginning of the novel, Miles’ mother ‘’persevered awash in delusion that [Miles] had kept [his] popularity secret from her [thorough his schooling]’’ (p. 9) despite this, Miles lived a lonely life where he had not built relationships with his peers. This use of direct characterization clearly displays that miles clearly considers himself as unpopular. The way of which Miles went about his day is explained as sad, uninteresting and boring; which contrasts to his new life at Culver Creek Preparatory. Furthermore, the literary technique of irony is used when Miles mentioned that he was forced to invite his’ ’school friends’’ (page 9) to his farewell party who he later describes as ‘’the ragtag bunch of drama people and English geeks I sat with by social necessity…’’ (pg. 9). The use of irony in this situation clearly outlines that fact that the people who Miles sat with at school were not really his friends but rather acquaintances. Eventually Miles’ family leaves him to explore a new chapter of his life; whilst Miles watched his parents leaving, he saw them ‘’…drive the winding road off campus.’’ The winding of the road that Miles’ parents took symbolizes the ups, downs and new turns that his life is going to take upon his parents leaving. Through the use of symbolism, the audience now discover that Miles has a new-found sense of independence after parting from his parents who he has always been close to. Not only will Miles’ life change after arriving at Culver Creek Preparatory but his parents’ lives will change as well.
Through new experience come a sense of identity. Green uses a range of techniques in order to portray characters emotions and personalities and to enforce the idea that when someone is put in new situations they learn new things. The literary technique of symbolism is used when Miles states that “[he] realized the importance of curves, of the thousand places where girls’ bodies ease from one place to another, from arc of the foot to ankle to calf… [he’d] noticed curves before, of course, but had never quite apprehended their significance.” (pg. 119) The curves of Alaska’s body symbolize the different angles or curves the one experiences whilst walking through a maze or a labyrinth. Through exploring the metaphoric labyrinth that Alaska is, Miles eventually figures out how to escape the labyrinth of pain and suffering which is where Miles poses the question of; “What is the best way to go about being a person? What are the rules of this game, and how might we best play it?” Alaska is a young woman who heavily influences Miles’ new-found sense of identity. When Miles and Alaska went to the ‘’Smoking hole’’ (pg.24) Miles is shocked that he goes to ‘’a school with a swan’’ (pg. 24) who Alaska later describes as ‘’…the spawn of Satan [and that] [Miles] should never get closer to [it] than [he is] now.’’ (pg. 24) The Swan in this situation is symbolic of Alaska. This is because she can be calm and beautiful at very first glace but she can also be destructive.