I finished my previous post with the questions: How do Miles and Alaska escape the labyrinth of suffering? According to them what is the best way to go about being a person? What rules do they abide by and how do they best play the game of life? Let’s explore these questions by first looking at Alaska Young.
Alaska: How She Experiences and Escapes the Labyrinth of Suffering:
Alaska watches her mother die and is frozen into paralysis from calling 911 to save her. Alaska blames herself (as does her father) for her mother’s death. This is the main incident that causes Alaska’s subsequent suffering and pain. Her pain further snowballs when she forgets the anniversary of her mother’s death and she feels she has failed her mother yet another time. You can feel the pain Alaska experiences when she says:
“I don’t understand why I screw everything up…I have guts, just not when it counts…what you must understand about me is that I am a deeply unhappy person…God, how many times can I f@#% up.”
The meaning of Alaska’s name also provides a clue for how she deals with pain and suffering. For example her name means “That which the sea breaks against,” so we already know that Alaska is constantly up against or fighting the ‘storms’, issues, troubles and misfortunes in her life.
Alaska likes Moby-Dick as The Colonel says, “Big white whale is a metaphor for everything. You live for pretentious metaphors.” The whale in Moby-Dick represents elements of life out of human control and unbridled nature, similar to Alaska who is care free and unbridled and experiences pain and loss that is out of her control. However the sea swallows up the whale as Alaska herself seems to be struggling against and is swallowed up by her pain and suffering leading up to her eventual death.
Even Miles recognizes that Alaska’s absorption into her pain and suffering and her failure to forgive herself for her mother’s death caused her to self-destruct, he says:
“When she f@#%ed up, all those years ago, just a little girl terrified into paralysis, she collapsed into the enigma of herself…forgetting her mother, failing her mother and her friends and herself–those are awful things, but she did not need to fold into herself and self-destruct.”
So how did Alaska choose to escape the Labyrinth of suffering? Alaska herself stated, “Getting out isn’t easy.” Eventually she got tired of going through the maze and never knowing when and if her suffering and pain would end, and she got tired of imagining a future free of suffering. Consequently, Alaska chose the “Straight & Fast” way out, skipping the labyrinth altogether and the pain and suffering that comes with it. However, Miles chooses a better way out of the Labyrinth and this will be explored in my next post.
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment!
previous posts in the series: Book Review: Looking for Alaska, Looking for Alaska: Character Analysis and the Labyrinth Part 1.
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