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Because he spends so much time studying, Miles finds that his classes aren’t as difficult as he’d worried they would be. As he listens in religion class, he stares out the window and thinks about the Buddhist belief that all things are interconnected. When the Old Man sees Miles staring out the window, he tells him to leave his class. In solidarity with Miles, Alaska stands up and yells at the Old Man, and the two leave the classroom together. Alaska decides that they should look for four-leaf clovers, but Miles ends up looking more at Alaska than he does looking for four-leaf clovers. When Chip and Takumi join them after class finishes, Alaska walks away, disappointed that Takumi and Chip did not leave class in solidarity as well. Miles, Chip, and Takumi follow her to the “smoking hole” where the four of them smoke and talk about getting revenge on the Weekday Warriors. Alaska finishes her cigarette quickly. When Miles asks her why she smokes so fast, she tells him that she does not smoke to enjoy it, she smokes to die.
The next night, Chip insists that he and Miles go to the basketball game even though Miles doesn’t like sports. As they sit on the bleachers at the game, one of the Weekday Warriors that tossed Miles in the lake sits with them and asks for a truce, saying that he says he thinks they are even. Chip and Miles refuse. As the basketball game progresses, Chip begins leading increasingly more derogatory chants against the opposing team. He is eventually thrown out of the game, extending his streak of being thrown out to 37 consecutive games.
The next day, the Old Man asks Miles to stay after class. He asks Miles if he enjoys the class and tells him he needs to be present with whatever is in front of him. Miles agrees with the Old Man.
Miles notices the weather beginning to cool on the first day of October. In class, Alaska invites him to study at McDonald’s over lunch. Alaska drives, taking Miles, a sophomore named Lara, and some other friends. Alaska intentionally fills the car so that Lara has to sit on Miles’s lap. While at McDonald’s, Alaska talks to another student about smoking cigarettes versus smoking marijuana. Alaska defends her cigarette habit by saying she may die young, but at least she will die smart.
The next day, when Miles asks Alaska about her name, she sits close to him and grabs his hands to tell him the story. Her father wanted to name her Mary Frances Young, but her hippie mother wanted to name her Harmony Springs Young. Her parents made her legal name Mary, but they let her pick her own name when she turned seven. She picked the name Alaska, which comes from an Aleut word meaning “that which the sea breaks against.” Also, the state of Alaska is far from her hometown—and she wants to be far from her hometown as well.
Alaska confides that she wants to teach disabled children when she is older. Feeling close to her, Miles leans in to kiss Alaska, but Alaska pulls away and complains about dreaming of the future. She calls looking to the future a kind of nostalgia because it is a way for people to escape the present. She also compares dreaming about the future to Bolívar’s “escaping the labyrinth” statement and says she isn’t going to imagine the future—but instead just live it. When Miles responds that he does not get her, Alaska replies that the point is that he will never understand her.
Miles, Alaska, Chip, and Takumi go to the lake to smoke on Sunday. The Eagle finds them smoking. They are told to report to the Jury, a student body disciplinary system, the next day.
Miles, Alaska, Chip, and Takumi report to the Jury, which consists of twelve students who determine punishments for non-expulsion offenses. Alaska and Miles arrive early and Miles asks Alaska if she is nervous. She says she is because it is her seventh time being caught smoking and she is worried about upsetting her father. Miles asks if she is worried because her father will be upset because her mother smokes and Alaska simply replies that her mother used to smoke. Takumi and Chip arrive, and Chip tells Miles not to say anything. Chip and Alaska take the blame for smoking and Takumi makes it clear that neither he nor Miles smoked. Chip and Alaska are given ten work hours doing dishes in the cafeteria and Miles and Takumi are only given a warning. Miles asks why Chip and Alaska protected him and Takumi, but no one explains.
In these chapters, Alaska shows how and why she is the group’s implicit leader, setting the rules by example and inspiring the group’s behavior. By defending Miles and getting kicked out of class with him, and later expressing her disappointment with Chip and Takumi for not joining them, Alaska reinforces the group’s code of loyalty. Takumi underscores this point when Miles wants to know where Alaska is leading them and Takumi says simply, “You’ll see.” Takumi is subtly signaling a hierarchy in the group, in which Alaska is the general to Chip’s colonel, and Takumi and Miles are mere foot soldiers. Alaska leads by example, acting as inspiration for the group’s rebellious acts, such as in their yearly prank. It is therefore confusing when Alaska brushes off the concern about Marya getting ratted out. Alaska sends mixed messages about the value of loyalty. Takumi wants to argue the point, but Alaska silences him, again demonstrating her dominance.
Despite her openness to intimacy, Alaska tries to remain aloof and apart from the group so she can maintain her independence and air of mystery. She is attracted to Miles and frequently flirts with him but always ends up pulling away and reminding him that she has a boyfriend. Alaska’s boyfriend, who is in college and lives out of town, symbolizes the way Alaska maintains a life separate from the group. This independence also gives Alaska a higher social status within the group, and ironically, helps solidify her leadership position. But Alaska also wants to maintain an air of mystery, which is why the group rarely sees or interacts with Alaska’s boyfriend. The story of Alaska’s name only adds to the intrigue and the sense that part of her is always “somewhere else.” For Miles, Alaska’s mysteriousness is part of her allure, but he senses something dark in her as well. Alaska’s jokes that she “smoke[s] to die” and that she may die young but smart are just two of her many references to death. These references deepen as well as darken her personal enigma. When Alaska tells Miles, “You never get me. That’s the point,” she reveals that she maintains her mysteriousness on purpose and enjoys leaving Miles to guess what that purpose may be.
Miles’s internal conflict between being a good student and rebelling to fit in becomes more complex in these chapters, as does his journey to gain a wider understanding of the world around him. The incident at the first basketball game and Dr. Hyde’s meeting with Miles the next day highlight his internal conflict and show that it is a part of Miles’s maturation process. When Miles wishes he were as brave and rebellious as Chip at the basketball game, it reveals an immaturity in Miles’s thinking. Chip admits that he performs his antics for no other reason than to maintain his streak of getting kicked out. In other words, he does it to seem cool. Miles also wants to be cool and so he admires Chip for his outlandish and immature behavior. But Miles also admires Dr. Hyde, who makes clear in their meeting after class that he expects more from him. Dr. Hyde ’s advice to Miles to try and remain present is another way of saying he wants Miles to become more mature. Thus, Miles’s respect for Dr. Hyde counters his more destructive instincts and helps keep him at least partly focused on school.