The Famous Last Words From 'Looking for Alaska'

There are a thousand reasons why so many readers adore John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska . The first time I read it, I wasn't prepared for the emotional whirlwind, and frankly, I'm not sure I'll ever recover from it. Looking For Alaska is the story of a teenage boy, Pudge, who decides to "seek a great perhaps" — in other words: find adventure. When he transfers to a boarding school, he befriends the mysterious Alaska Young, a girl who transforms his life and reshapes his thinking.

One of the most fascinating facets of Pudge's character is his obsession with the last words of famous people. It may sound morbid, but these "famous last words" are one of the most interesting parts of the book. These quotes don't just serve as filler lines. They aren't there to make Pudge "quirky" or "unique." These last works guide the story and Pudge's experience. They're the backdrop of his growth.

Green has this ability to make you turn a page, shed a tear, and fall in love with fictional characters like no one else. He creates smart, witty, and inspiring characters to learn from, especially for young adults trying to figure things out. So if you're also a big Green fan, this is a list for you. I've found and quoted every single 'famous last words' used in Looking for Alaska:

1. "I go to seek a great perhaps."

— Francois Rabelais

2. "On the contrary..."

— Henrik Ibsen

“He’d been sick for awile and his nurse said to him, ‘You seem to be feeling better this morning,’ and Ibsen looked at her and said, ‘On the contrary,’ and then he died.”

3. "That's Obvious."

— John F. Kennedy

4. "Damn it, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth!"

— Simon Bolivar

5. "The truth is…I care a great deal…what they…"

— Leo Tolstoy

6. "The nourishment is palatable."

— Millard Fillmore

"When Fillmore was dying, he was super hungry. But his doctor was trying to starve his fever or whatever. Fillmore wouldn’t shut up about wanting to eat, though, so finally the doctor gave him a tiny teaspoon of soup. And all sarcastic, Fillmore said, "The nourishment is palatable."

7. "Yes, and I fear seriously."

— General Albert Sidney Johnston

“When asked if he was injured, answered, “Yes, and I fear seriously.”

8. "Strike the tent!"

— Robert E. Lee

9. "Water."

— Ulysses S. Grant

10. "We are all going."

— William McKinley:

"He lived for several days after he was shot, and toward the end, his wife started crying and screaming. "I want to go, too! I want to go, too!" and with his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his last words: "We are all going."

11. "Shoot, coward. You are only going to kill a man."

— Che Guevara

“Captured by the Bolivian army, Guevara said, “Shoot, coward. You are only going to kill a man."

12. "They couldn’t hit an elephant from this dis—"

— General Sedgwick

13. "Lord help my poor soul."

— Edgar Allen Poe

14. "Now comes the mystery."

— Henry Ward Breecher

15. "I’ve had eighteen straight whiskeys. I do believe that’s a record."

— Dylan Thomas

16. "Born in a hotel room, and—God damn it—died in a hotel room."

— Eugene O’Neill

17. "Oh God. What’s happened?"

— Princess Diana

18. "They’ve got to see us."

— James Dean

19. "I am not a coward, but I am so strong. So hard to die."

— Meriwether Lewis

20. "Like this."

— Sufi

"The poor Sufi dressed in rags walked into a jewelry store owned by a rich merchant and asked him, “Do you know how you’re going to die.” And the Sufi said, “I do.”

“How?” asked the merchant.

And the Sufi lay down, crossed his arms, said, “Like this,” and died, whereupon the merchant promptly gave up his store to live a life of poverty in pursuit of the kind of spiritual wealth the dead Sufi had acquired.”

21. "It’s very beautiful over there."

— Thomas Edison