What is the significance of the opening scene in Looking for Alaska?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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As the novel opens, protagonist "Pudge" is preparing to leave home to attend a boarding school. He explains that his mother insisted on throwing a going-away party for him, even though he didn't want one, and knows that most of the kids he hangs out with in school won't come. This shows Pudge's disaffection with the world at large and his refusal to get along "just to get along."

Still my mother perservered, awash in the delusion that I had kept my popularity secret from her all these years.
The only thing worse than having a party that no one attends is having a party attended only by two vastly, deeply uninteresting people.
(Green, Looking for Alaska, Google Books)

The opening scene sets the stage for Pudge's various trials later in the novel; many of his problems result from his deliberate attempts to avoid friendship and relationships. Although he shows affection for his parents, he is also consumed with the idea that they cannot understand his disaffection, and so he intends to "seek a Great Perhaps" somewhere else. The party, where only two people come, also echoes Pudge's later life, as he actually makes friends who see him out of friendship instead of an unspoken obligation.


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