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Chip and Miles decide they should do a prank in honor of Alaska. Chip tells him that Alaska had planned a prank that was so good that they decided to save it for their senior prank. Chip tells Miles it is called “Subverting the Patriarchal Paradigm,” and that it is worthy of her memory.
Chip returns from spring break with detailed plans for executing the “Subverting the Patriarchal Paradigm” prank. Chip reviews the plan with Miles, Takumi, and Lara.
Miles calls his father to get his help in executing the prank. He asks his father to pretend to be Dr. William Morse, a psychology professor and expert on adolescent sexuality. Miles is trying to arrange to have the fictional Dr. William Morse be the speaker for an annual school-wide Speaker Day. Miles’s father agrees to the plan. Later, Miles and Longwell Chase, the student body president, arrange for the Eagle to call Miles’s father, who is posing as the fictional psychologist. After the call, the Eagle approves the speaker, unaware that Dr. William Morse is not real.
With the help of other juniors at school, Chip and Miles execute the next part of the plan by hiring a male stripper to appear on Speaker Day. They write out a speech for the stripper. On Speaker Day, the stripper arrives, is paid, and reads over his speech. He enters the gym with Miles, posing as the fictional Dr. William Morse. The Eagle introduces the performer to the student body and he begins to deliver the speech Chip and Miles prepared for him. Lara stands and interrupts him, tells him to stop talking and take off his clothes. The stripper, pretending to be nervous, tells the student body that it is important to subvert the patriarchal paradigm. On cue, Takumi plays a song on the loudspeakers, the performer dedicates his performance to Alaska, and he tears off his clothes to begin dancing in leather briefs.
The Eagle quickly puts an end to the music and dancing, but everyone is amused by the situation. Rather than take credit it for it, the junior class tells everyone it was Alaska’s prank. Later that night, the Eagle stops by Chip and Miles’s dorm to warn them never to pull a stunt like that again, as well as to acknowledge his amusement since the prank was clearly Alaska’s idea.
Takumi enters Miles’s room while he studies and asks him if he remembers January 10th. Miles remembers January 10th because that was the day Alaska died. Takumi points out that not only was it the day that Alaska died, it was the day after the anniversary of Alaska’s favorite memory with her mother. Chip and Miles are shocked as they recall Alaska telling the story of going to the zoo with her mother on January 9, 1997. They realize that Alaska’s doodles of flowers likely reminded her of her mother’s death, and she must have remembered that she had not visited the grave with white flowers like she usually did. Although they will never know what she thought in her final moments, the three friends realize they now understand the reason she left and why her car was filled with flowers.
Chip, Miles, Takumi, and Lara give up searching for information about Alaska’s death after they understand why she probably left that night. Miles appreciates that it gives him a new capacity to discover the Great Perhaps. Chip and Miles decide that what they need for closure is to drive through the accident site like Alaska would have. They borrow Takumi’s car and drive the route she drove, speeding up as she must have through the point where the accident would have taken place. They get out of the car and cry and hug. They do not care that they may look lame, just relieved to be alive.
Chip, Miles, Takumi, and Lara study for finals together. They miss Alaska and do not talk much.
In religion class, the Old Man assigns the final paper. The question to answer for this paper is in response to Alaska’s paper from the first semester. Students have to answer how they, personally, will get out of the labyrinth of suffering. Chip and Miles discuss the topic back in their dorm and Chip admits that he briefly forgot about Alaska. He tells Miles that, even though he agrees that the only way out of the labyrinth is straight and fast, he picks the labyrinth over escaping.
Takumi finishes his exams early and leaves school without personally saying goodbye. He leaves Chip and Miles a letter, explaining that he saw Alaska the night that she died. She told him that night that she was upset about her mother’s death and, like Chip and Miles, he let her drive away even though she was drunk. He apologizes for letting her leave, too, and apologizes for not telling them the whole truth sooner. Miles runs from the room, upset, but he quickly returns and decides that it is time to write his final paper for religion class. He writes that, despite the pain from losing Alaska, he still believes in the Great Perhaps. He states that, since matter cannot be created or destroyed, Alaska must exist in some form, and he hopes it is somewhere beautiful.
The Alaska Young Memorial Prank is the keystone in Miles’s and his friends’ successful efforts to give meaning to Alaska’s life and shows Miles’s growing maturity in a variety of ways. One way this is evident is in the way Miles cooperates for the greater good. Despite their rivalry, the pranksters enlist the help of Longwell Chase and the Weekday Warriors. Miles admits that “Longwell and I had nothing to talk about and no desire to pretend otherwise,” but they have found commonality in their desire to honor Alaska and they go about their work deliberately and without disagreement. Coming together with an adversary in order to achieve a common goal would have been unthinkable in the early chapters of the book. Here, Miles shows he has grown considerably, and has the maturity and self-awareness to know it.
Miles’s work on the Memorial Prank also helps breaks down some long-established barriers. Throughout the book, Miles feels a conflict between his desire to be a good son and student and the desire to act rebellious in order to make friends. By asking his father to help with the prank, Miles bridges this gap and achieves both. His father is both proud of him (“I want to see if you can top me”) and aware that Miles is doing something against the rules (“Swear to God you’ll never tell your mother”). The prank also contributes to the theme of friendship and belonging. It suggests that to define “belonging” as “belonging to this very specific group” is small-minded and petty. Miles now understands that many students outside his immediate friend group have been affected by Alaska and her death. The prank breaks down the rigidity of social cliques and joins the whole school together as one group. Even the Eagle seems to enjoy the prank, breaking the most rigid social barrier in the book, that between students and school staff.
Miles’s written response to Dr. Hyde’s final religion paper question shows that Miles has grown and matured considerably since the beginning of the year. After the Memorial Prank, the remaining loose thread of the novel is Miles’s struggle to see meaning in Alaska’s death so that he can accept it and move on. His final religion paper is the perfect opportunity for Miles to tie this loose thread up, proving once again the importance and relevance of Dr. Hyde’s class. Additionally, Takumi’s straightforward communication helps Miles to grow. It is Takumi’s confession that he also saw Alaska the night she died that leads to Miles’s epiphany about forgiveness, which Miles later expresses in his paper. In forgiving Takumi for his role in Alaska’s death, Miles also comes to understand that Alaska has forgiven all of them and, more broadly, “that we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth.” The paper itself represents radically different thinking from the Miles at the beginning of the book who “built a small, self-sufficient world in the back corner of an endless maze.” His perspective is much broader now and filled with acceptance. Most significantly, Miles’s response is noticeably wise, as it shows a capacity within him to experience new and difficult things, including the trauma of a friend’s violent death, and through grief make sense of it all. In the end, Miles shows that his search for the Great Perhaps has resulted in a coming of age that will prepare him for the life ahead.