Study Guide

Paper Towns Dissatisfaction

By John Green


Part 1, Chapter 3
Margo Roth Spiegelman

"College: getting in or not getting in. Trouble: getting in or not getting in. School: getting A's or getting D's. Career: having or not having. House: big or small, owning or renting. Money: having or not having. It's all so boring." (1.3.15)

Margo Roth Spiegelman doesn't just think life is boring, she thinks she's better than all that, and she looks down on anyone who lives a life like everyone else.

Part 1, Chapter 6
Margo Roth Spiegelman

"Everything is uglier up close," she said. (1.6.31)

Maybe Margo Roth Spiegelman thinks this because she thinks she is uglier up close, so it's hard for her to see that other people, places, and things might actually have value upon closer inspection.

Margo scoffed. "Really? You seriously think so?"

"I mean, well, maybe not," I said, although it was. (1.6.29-30)

She doesn't understand how Quentin could find Orlando, their hometown, beautiful. She only likes when people are just as cynical and dissatisfied as she is.

"I've lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters." (1.6.34)

Margo is disappointed and disgusted by the way other people act, but what does she care about that makes her so different? Is she any different?

Part 1, Chapter 8
Margo Roth Spiegelman

"Doing stuff never feels as good as you hope it will feel." (1.8.62)

Is it possible that Margo is doing the wrong things? Whose fault is it that the things she does don't live up to her own expectations? How does she fix that?

Part 2: The Grass / Chapter 1
Quentin Jacobson

As Mom pulled up to school, I saw Margo's usual spot empty in the senior parking lot. (2.1.13)

Quentin hopes that his night with Margo will change his life, so it's a deflating moment when she's not even at school the next day.

Part 2, Chapter 8
Quentin Jacobson

Not wanting to be found by some kids in Jefferson Park isn't the same thing as not wanting to die. (2.8.28)

Quentin worries that Margo isn't just dissatisfied with her life, or, as Ben suggests, craving attention, but that she's suicidal and depressed.

Part 2, Chapter 9

This is the value of our souvenirs, I think: you can't give this s*** away. (2.9.31)

The mini-mall where Margo Roth Spiegelman squats (Margo Roth Spiegelsquats) is a sad place, filled with souvenirs. Sometimes people are really happy to get a souvenir, but as the trip becomes more of a distant memory, the souvenir gathers dust and eventually gets tossed out.

Part 2, Chapter 12
Quentin Jacobson

I found myself able to imagine Margo here, leaning against the wall with the musty rolled-up carpet for a seat, eating a nutrition bar. She is all alone, with only this to eat. (2.12.23)

Quentin imagines this amazing life that Margo has created for herself, so he's disappointed (and a bit alarmed) to learn that she's merely been squatting in a rat hole.

Part 2, Chapter 13
Quentin Jacobson

It all seemed so trivial, so embarrassing. It all seemed like paper kids having their paper fun. (2.13.22)

Looks like Margo's condescending nature has finally rubbed off on Quentin.