Yet much suffering is brutal and unnecessary, as the drug-users repeated attempts to hook Alice again demonstrate. As before, the social world is the true culprit, not merely tempting Alice but forcing her into submission. Still, she manages to extract some wisdom from her alienation. She refines her previous division between squares and stoners and, perhaps because of Joel's influence, identifies further classifications, such as wealth, that are equally important. Nevertheless, Alice cannot fully reveal to her family the constant outside pressure to do drugs. Her guilt over having caused her family so much pain already, while a part of her reformation, makes her at times too timid to ask for help.

Alice's grandmother's death recalls her nightmares over maggots and worms eating the dead body. Her anxiety is reminiscent of Holden Caulfield's morbid obsession in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. In the novel, Holden is fascinated by the Egyptian process of mummification, and, conversely, he fears what happens to dead bodies after they have been buried. For Holden, the preservation of mummification is a safeguard against the corruption of old age; regular burial and its attendant deformations of the body is a symbol of loss of innocence as one ages. Alice's fears center more on the loneliness of the individual mind. No one knows what happens to a body underground, hidden from sight. Alice's repeated pledges of devotion to her diary, the one "person" that understands her, clarify her morbidity: no one knows what is happening in her mind, hidden from sight. What's worse, she is afraid to unearth her mind to others, either out of guilt or fear of misunderstanding or rejection. Fortunately, she gains trust when she reveals to Joel parts of her past and he accepts her, not despite her experience, but as something that has made Alice who she is—a sensitive, observant girl who has known great sorrow and is trying to get better.