Study Guide

Paper Towns Identity

By John Green


Part 1: The Strings / Chapter 1
Quentin Jacobson

These stories, when they were shared, inevitably ended with, I mean, can you believe it? We often could not, but they always proved true. (1.1.22)

Margo Roth Spiegelman is a wild mystery to people at her high school, telling them that she once ran away with the circus, or learned to play guitar in Mississippi. What we want to know is how they proved these wild stories were true.

I liked being bored. (1.1.89)

Quentin is fine with the status quo—studying for school, taking exams, focusing on college. He says it's "being bored," but if he likes doing these things, is he really "bored"?

Part 1, Chapter 3
Margo Roth Spiegelman

"I'm a big believer in random capitalization. The rules of capitalization are so unfair to words in the middle." (1.3.7)

Margo Roth Spiegelman's random Capitalization is One of the Many Affections she Has, and it says a lot about her identity: She wants to be different, but she's not going to actually rearrange the sentence in order to change.

Part 1, Chapter 4
Margo Roth Spiegelman

"I'm not pretty. Not close up, anyway. Generally, the closer people get to me the less hot they find me." (1.4.22)

Margo is the type of person who projects her identity outward, but she doesn't really know who she really is. So when people get close, things are a little messier than the carefully cultivated identity she puts forward.

Part 2, Chapter 10

I wanted Margo's disappearance to change me; but it hadn't, not really. (2.10.36)

Quentin wants Margo Roth Spiegelman's disappearance to change him, but he says it hasn't… but is he really the best judge of his own identity? Has it changed Quentin?

Ben Starling

"She's not dead. She's a drama queen. Wants attention." (2.10.31)

A person's identity is made up of both how they present themselves and how others perceive them. If you ask Ben, he perceives Margo as a drama queen. And he isn't the only who thinks this—her parents would agree. Does that make her a drama queen?

Part 2, Chapter 14
Radar (Marcus)

"Stop thinking Ben should be you, and he needs to stop thinking you should be him, and y'all just chill the hell out." (2.14.46)

Radar makes a good point about friendship: Good friends have complementary personalities, and they accept each other's differences instead of trying to change them. And really, it would be boring if everyone acted exactly the same.

Part 2, Chapter 15
Quentin Jacobson

Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl. (2.15.22)

Quentin realizes that by idolizing Margo, he was taking away her humanity, in a way. He wasn't treating her as a person; he was treating her as an object or an ideal.

Part 2, Chapter 19

To find Margo Roth Spiegelman, you must become Margo Roth Spiegelman. (2.19.13)

That sounds like a fate worse than death. We'd rather be Kafka turned into a cockroach.

Part 3, Chapter 22
Margo Roth Spiegelman

"I looked down and thought about how I was made of paper. I was the flimsy-foldable person, not everyone else. And here's the thing about it. People love the idea of a paper girl. They always have. And the worst thing is that I loved it, too. I cultivated it, you know?" (3.22.96)

This is an epiphany for Margo. She realizes that it's not life and everyone in it that's boring, but she who is boring, and she has to find what she really appreciates and loves in order to be a complete person and live life to the fullest.