The novel Looking for Alaska by John Green centers on a main character, Miles Halter, that goes through many learning experiences. For example, Miles goes through a huge adjustment period moving from Florida to Alabama for boarding school. Getting used to this new place was a huge mile stone in his life. Possibly the most influential person in Miles’ life is Alaska Young. Alaska makes Miles understand and learn things he never would have thought of before. Her death is something that changes Miles in a huge way. . Miles’ experience in World Religions class is another important learning experience. Dr. Hyde, his teacher, teaches him much more than the history of different religions.
Straight away in the novel, Miles goes through his first learning experience. Moving from his home in Florida to his new boarding school, Culver Creek, in Alabama was a huge adjustment. Miles initially noticed the massive climate between Florida and Alabama. While unpacking his things from his parents’ car when he first moved, he says “… each time I took those steps to and from the car … the sun burned through my clothes and into my skin with a vicious ferocity that made me genuinely fear hellfire. Miles soon realized that his dorm room was not air-conditioned. Miles eventually learns to just deal with the heat like everyone else at Culver Creek.
Something else he had to get used to was living in a dorm room with someone for the first time. Miles’ roommate was Chip “the Colonel” Martin. The Colonel introduced Miles to the social make-up of the school; who to hang out with and who not to. Miles never had many friends back in Florida, so the Colonel giving him this advice really helped him out. Miles soon gained new friends, and began to adapt to his social group. Despite his parents’ orders, Miles began smoking and drinking. At first, of course, he did not like it too much but he figured it was worth it. Among his friends, Alaska stands out the most to Miles. He was mesmerized by her, whether it was her looks or something she said, Miles was intrigued. Miles and Alaska were similar in a few ways. One of those similarities was that they both had a special talent; Miles could memorize famous last words of countless people, and Alaska could go through life like it was a metaphor.
Alaska saw life as a labyrinth, such as the one from her favorite book The General in His Labyrinth. She always talked about the last words of the character from that book, which were, “Damn it, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth! ” Alaska wanted to find out how exactly one gets out of the labyrinth, and what it even was. When she died in a car accident, the scene never showed any signs of her car swerving or even using her breaks. Miles and the Colonel worked for months trying to figure out how and why Alaska died. In the end, they figure she had been on her way to her mother’s grave, and when she saw the parked police car on the side of the road ahead of her, she had found a way to get out of labyrinth. Alaska felt it was necessary right there and then to end her life and that she had already done all she could. This made Miles learn that you never really know when it is time to get out of the labyrinth, or life, until it is staring you in the face. Something else Miles learned from was his experience in World Religions class with Dr. Hyde. Dr. Hyde was a very old man, with only one lung. Despite not being able to walk or talk very fast, he was Miles’ favorite teacher.
Most people hated his class because all he did was lecture during the whole fifty minutes. Over the course of the year, Miles learned much more than just the history of Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. One specific thing Miles learned from was the final paper Dr. Hyde had assigned. The topic was “How will you -you personally- ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering? Now that you’ve wrestled with three major religious traditions, apply your newly enlightened mind to Alaska’s question. ” This topic really made Miles think. He connected his knowledge of the journey to reaching enlightenment in Buddhism, and Alaska’s idea of this great labyrinth in his paper.
Thanks to Dr. Hyde, Miles was able to answer Alaska’s question his own way; which is that getting out of the labyrinth is the same process as reaching enlightenment, you never know when it’s going to happen and when it does it just, “POOF”, happens. Miles Halter experienced many learning experiences throughout the novel Looking for Alaska. He adjusted to a new school, gained new friends, and was able to see life in a completely different way. Without the Colonel, Alaska, and Dr. Hyde Miles’ first year at Culver Creek would not have been the same.