Paper Towns

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Quentin Jacobsen Character Analysis

The novel’s narrator and protagonist, a senior in high school who endeavors to discover the fate of his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, after her mysterious disappearance. Quentin begins the novel as a mild-mannered nerd with a chronic fear of breaking rules, who has harbored a massive crush on Margo since they were children. As he progresses in his search, Quentin begins to question the way he has conceptualized other people — both those he cares for and those he resents — and learns to recognize the complexity and humanity of every person. Quentin is invested in understanding the ways human beings build connections with one another, and thinks deeply throughout the novel about the limitations of communication and the difficulty of truly understanding another person’s mind.

Quentin Jacobsen Quotes in Paper Towns

The Paper Towns quotes below are all either spoken by Quentin Jacobsen or refer to Quentin Jacobsen. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Speak edition of Paper Towns published in 2009.
Part 1, Chapter 1 Quotes

It was so pathetically easy to forget about Chuck, to talk about prom even though I didn’t give a shit about prom. Such was life that morning: nothing really mattered much, not the good things and not the bad ones. We were in the business of mutual amusement, and we were reasonably prosperous.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Ben Starling, Radar, Chuck Parson
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Quentin describes the ordinary day leading up to his adventure with Margo. Before Quentin becomes entangled with Margo, he lives a life almost entirely without extremes. He has few troubles and no great sorrows — but at the same time he has no real sources of joy. Quentin captures the mild emotional power and low stakes of his life when he describes his activities, including his relationships with his best friends, as "amusement." Though he seems successful on paper — he has friends and a social life, good grades, and has been admitted to an elite university — his life is emotionally shallow.

This moment, like a calm before a storm, will provide a contrast with the strong emotions and powerful ideas Quentin will encounter as he delves more deeply into Margo's world. His deepening love for and understanding of Margo will help Quentin better appreciate the relationships and experiences he has always taken for granted, and challenge him to evaluate his life with a more critical eye than ever before, disrupting his contentment and shocking him into a deeper and more intense experience of life.

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Part 1, Chapter 3 Quotes

“Did you know that for pretty much the entire history of the human species, the average life span was less than thirty years? You could count on ten years or so of real adulthood, right? There was no planning for retirement. No planning for a career. There was no planning … And now life has become the future. Every moment of your life is lived for the future.”

Related Characters: Margo Roth Spiegelman (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

Margo and Quentin have just begun their night of adventure. They are buying supplies in Wal-Mart when Margo launches, seemingly unprompted, into this speech. Though she uses abstraction and impersonal language to create the illusion of having emotional distance, it is clear that Margo is really expressing her own frustrations about the attitude many people around her — including Quentin himself — seem to have: a focus on the accumulation of material goods and accomplishments at the expense of profound experiences in the present.

Margo hungers for deeper and more intense experiences than are readily available to her, and she longs for a life molded around values and ideals rather than the desire to meet the expectations of others. Her comments begin to shed light on her reasons for planning the epic adventure in which she has enlisted Quentin, as well as her other legendary schemes. Her rash and often dangerous actions allow her to live entirely in the present, and to create some distance, however temporary, from the disappointments of her life. 

Part 1, Chapter 6 Quotes

Even though I could see her there, I felt entirely alone among these big and empty buildings, like I’d survived the apocalypse and the world had been given to me, this whole and amazing and endless world, mine for the exploring.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

Driving through downtown Orlando after a series of acts of exhilarating vandalism, Quentin has become swept up in the adventure and drama of his night with Margo. Where before he was preoccupied with anxiety about getting into trouble, he now feels empowered by the events of the night. The world around him, which seemed so ordinary not just in daylight but all through the days of his life before tonight, now seems beautiful — and, just as importantly, Quentin feels as though this beautiful new world is open to him.

Interestingly, Quentin's feeling of ownership and uncharacteristic willingness to embrace life fully comes at Margo's expense. Thrilled and preoccupied by the new perspective opening up inside him, Quentin ceases to even see Margo. The night has become, from Quentin's point of view, less about following a beautiful girl on an adventure and more about embracing a new vision of himself. The way he fails to see Margo here also hints at the way he (at this point) fails to entirely see the real Margo. She represents a kind of dream or ideal for Quentin, and through the novel Quentin comes to know himself in part by learning how to get to know Margo as a person too.

“It’s a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I’ve lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anone who cares about anything that matters.

Related Characters: Margo Roth Spiegelman (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

Margo shares these reflections with Quentin while they look at the dark streets of Orlando from the top floor of the SunTrust Building. Her speech is a response to Quentin's claim that he finds the deserted streets of the city "beautiful."

Here Margo adopts the language of "paper" as a metaphor for the emptiness and short-sightedness of the world she comes from. Just as paper can be easily ripped or crumpled, people and communities that organize themselves around poorly chosen values — ideals Margo describes as"paper-thin and paper-frail" — cannot hope to produce anything meaningful and lasting. She disparages the materialism of her society, in which people spend their entire lives accumulating wealth and possessions but sacrifice relationships, beauty, and a sense of responsibility to others in order to do so. She characterizes that materialism as a kind of mental illness, which makes people "demented with the mania of owning things." 

The contrast between Quentin's perspective and Margo's highlights the fundamental difference in their personalities. Quentin is optimistic to the point of being naive. Now that Margo has disrupted the routines of his life, he is eager to see the world around him as being full of beauty and adventure, and he either cannot see the underlying darkness, or refuses to do so. Margo, by contrast, is so cynical that she cannot appreciate beauty at all. Rather than allow herself to see Orlando through Quentin's eyes, she has to counter his positive view of the city with a dark alternative. 

Part 1, Chapter 8 Quotes

“I didn’t need you, you idiot. I picked you. And then you picked me back … And that’s like a promise. At least for tonight. In sickness and in health. In good times and in bad. For richer, for poorer. Till dawn do us part.”

Related Characters: Margo Roth Spiegelman (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

Though Quentin feels sure Margo is only using him — that she would never deign to include him in her plans unless she stood to gain something from doing so — the truth is that Margo desperately needs a friend at this tumultuous moment in her life. Margo has concocted this nighttime crusade as a way of incinerating all her most cherished relationships, and she knows she will be leaving her family and community behind in just a few hours when she runs away to start a new life. At this moment of profound uncertainty and loneliness, Margo seeks support from Quentin, with whom she shares a history of friendship. Though their relationship has fizzled over the years, Quentin is now, essentially, the only friend Margo has left. 

And I wanted to tell her that the pleasure for me was in planning or doing or leaving: the pleasure was in seeing our strings cross and separate and then come back together.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

After breaking into SeaWorld at the end of their night of adventure, Margo confesses that doing interesting things never feels as good to her as planning them and looking forward to them. The park, for example, is unremarkable at night, when all the animals have been moved to different tanks. To Quentin, though, the only important thing is that he is sharing this experience with Margo: that he is watching the "strings" of their lives, which were interconnected in childhood, come back together after so many years of tepid acquaintanceship. Unlike Margo, who plans her adventures in hopes of finding the clarity and freedom she craves, Quentin relishes what the experience really offers: a moment of human connection, full of promise and possibility. 

Part 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

[M]aybe Margo needed to see my confidence. Maybe this time she wanted to be found, and to be found by me. Maybe — just as she had chosen me on the longest night, she had chosen be again. And maybe untold riches awaited he who found her.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

This thought occurs to Quentin while he, Radar, and Ben scour Margo's room for clues of her whereabouts shortly after her disappearance.

The fantasy Quentin describes — that Margo has engineered her own disappearance as an elaborate test for him, an opportunity for him to prove that he is worthy of her friendship and love — is impossibly outlandish and self-centered. Here, he reveals the extent to which his perception of Margo has become divorced from reality. Quentin sees Margo as a supporting character in his life, or a kind of beautiful, impossible ideal, rather than a three-dimensional person taking control of her own life.

Part 2, Chapter 7 Quotes

I refused to feel any kind of sadness over the fact that I wasn’t going to prom, but I had — stupidly, embarrassingly — thought of finding Margo, and getting her to come home with me just in time for prom, like late on Saturday night, and we’d walk into the Hilton ballroom wearing jeans and ratty T-shirts, and we be just in time for the last dance, and we’d dance while everyone pointed at us and marveled at the return of Margo, and then we’d fox-trot the hell out of there and go get ice cream at Friendly’s.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

After a phone call with Ben, Quentin reflects on his decision — about which he has been adamant since the first pages of the novel — not to attend prom. Always something of an outsider, Ben describes his hope that the people who ignored or bullied him for so many years will have to revise their idea of him when he arrives at the prom with beautiful, popular Lacey on his arm. 

Though Quentin dismisses Ben's fantasies over the phone, it is clear that he feels a similar desire to reinvent himself and break out of the mold of the conventional, obedient suburban kid in which he has been trapped all his life. In his imagination, he and Margo — a girl who represents the independence of mind and spirit he has never been brave enough to claim for himself — reject the shallow, conventional ritual of prom, showing up late in jeans and t-shirts instead of the formal clothes their classmates agonize over. At the same time, they are the stars of the evening, attracting the attention and admiration of all their classmates. Quentin longs both to find acceptance and to transcend the need for acceptance. 

Part 2, Chapter 8 Quotes

Standing before this building, I learn something about fear. I learn that it is not the idle fantasies of someone who maybe wants something important to happen to him, even if the important thing is horrible … This fear is bears no analogy to any fear I knew before. This is the basest of all possible emotions, the feeling that was with us before we existed, before this building existed, before the earth existed. This is the fear that made fish crawl onto dry land and evolve lungs, the fear that teaches us to run, the fear that makes us bury our dead.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 140-141
Explanation and Analysis:

When Quentin, Radar, and Ben arrive at the address listed on Margo's note, they are met with an overwhelming stench that Quentin immediately understands must be a rotting corpse. The smell jolts Quentin out of his carefree self-centeredness — his belief that Margo's disappearance is just a game, and that he will surely win the "prize" of her friendship and love when he finds her — and forces him to recognize the grave possibility that Margo may have committed suicide, and that the dead body may be hers. 

Though the corpse turns out to be that of a raccoon, this experience alters Quentin's entire relationship to Margo and her disappearance. After his experience at the strip mall, he feels a real, human connection with Margo, whereas before this confrontation with the possibility of her death, he had still idealized her from a distance. Quentin now begins to consider Margo's inner life more deeply, acknowledging the pain and loneliness that prompted her to run away and working to understand her empathetically. Like the fear that grips him outside the strip mall, this work is painful and sometimes overwhelming — however, as Quentin begins to humanize Margo in his mind, he becomes a fuller and more compassionate person, better able to care for those he loves.

Part 2, Chapter 9 Quotes

YOU WILL GO TO THE PAPER TOWNS
AND YOU WILL NEVER COME BACK

Related Characters: Margo Roth Spiegelman (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen, Ben Starling
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

Quentin, Radar, and Ben find this proclamation spray-painted on the wall of the abandoned strip mall where they expect to meet Margo. Since they discover the message shortly after their encounter with the dead raccoon, it forces them to once again consider the possibility that Margo may have taken her own life (or be planning to do so). The assertion that she will "never come back" is frightening for Quentin and his friends. 

Later, in Agloe, Margo explains to Quentin that her escape to the "paper town" — the imaginary place that became real — was intended as the symbolic first step in transforming herself from a "paper girl," who lacks substance and self-definition, to a real person who can live with purpose and conviction. Though Margo never intends to commit suicide, as Quentin fears she might, she believes that the part of herself that hungers after praise and popularity and the good opinion of other people must die before she can live an authentic life. With her spray-painted proclamation, Margo commits to the destruction of that part of herself. 

Part 2, Chapter 10 Quotes

“Let me give you some advice: let her come home. I mean, at some point, you gotta stop looking up at the sky, or one of these days you’ll look back down and see that you floated away, too.”

Related Characters: Detective Otis Warren (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen, Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

Detective Otis Warren offers Quentin this warning when Quentin calls him to discuss some new information he believes he has found about Margo's disappearance. Warren, who in his first meeting with Quentin compared runaway children to tied-down balloons that finally break free and float away, calls on that metaphor again to caution Quentin about losing himself in the search for Margo. Warren isn't the first person to worry that Quentin's obsession with finding Margo is hindering his ability to live a full life — Quentin's parents and Ben both express similar concerns at different points in the novel — but it is not until his near-death experience during his road trip to Agloe that Quentin truly begins to see the consequences of his obsession and to recapture his desire to live a full life on his own terms.

Though the novel focuses primarily on Quentin's journey to develop greater humanity and compassion for others, his experience searching for Margo also teaches him greater loyalty to and understand of himself. After dismissing his fantastic ideas about the ways in which his life might change if Margo were to love him, and working hard to transcend the boundaries of his own, self-centered perspective, he also has to recognize that his life is his alone to live. He must live responsibly, with regard and care for other human beings, but he also must make his own decisions and set his own priorities, rather than blindly following another person's vision for him. 

Part 2, Chapter 14 Quotes

“You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it’s going with my girlfriend — but I don’t give a shit, man, because you’re you.”

Related Characters: Radar (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen, Ben Starling
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

When Quentin, frustrated when Ben refuses to discuss new information about Margo's disappearance, declares Ben an "asshole" during a conversation with Radar, Radar chastises him for refusing to accept that Ben is a person with his own values and priorities, which may not always align with Quentin's. He encourages Quentin to focus on the things that make Ben a worthwhile person and a good friend, rather than on his shortcomings, and suggests implicitly that this is the only way relationships can be successful: that everyone has flaws which might make them unbearable to be around if those were their only characteristics, but that no person is defined entirely by their flaws. 

This conversation with Radar is part of Quentin's long journey to become a more compassionate and humane person — not  just with regard to Margo, but with regard to people who seem much more ordinary and less deserving than Margo. Ben is not the exciting, complex, intellectual person Margo is. He cracks immature jokes and craves the acceptance of his peers. These qualities make him easy to dismiss, but Radar urges Quentin to extend his compassion to Ben rather than reserving it for people who seem "special" and therefore worthy. 

Part 2, Chapter 15 Quotes

“I know it’s impossible for you to see peers this way, but when you’re older, you’ll start to see them — the bad kids and the good kids and all kids — as people. They’re just people, who deserve to be cared for. Varying degrees of sick, varying degrees of neurotic, varying degrees of self-actualized.”

Related Characters: Connie Jacobsen (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen, Tom Jacobsen
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:

During a dinner conversation about Quentin's longtime rival, Chuck Parson, Connie Jacobsen draws on her experience as a psychologist to counter her son's tendency to reduce other people to tropes and stereotypes: the bullheaded jock in the case of Chuck, the cold-hearted popular girl in the case of Becca Arrington, the beautiful mystery in the case of Margo.

Her profession gives Mrs. Jacobsen unique insight into the complexities of the human mind, but the wisdom she offers Quentin has less to do with her background in psychology than with her compassion and maturity: two qualities Quentin is still lacking, though he has made progress toward developing them. In his journey toward developing greater empathy, Quentin has focused largely on learning to understand and appreciate Margo — a person he already admired and cared for, even if his reasons for doing so were flawed. In order to develop true empathy, though, Quentin must recognize that every person, regardless of how difficult or unpleasant they might seem to him personally, has a deep and significant inner life and struggles in his or her own way. 

“The longer I do my job … the more I realize that humans lack good mirrors. It’s so hard for anyone to show us how we look, and so hard for us to show anyone who we feel.”

Related Characters: Tom Jacobsen (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen, Connie Jacobsen
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:

After Quentin dismisses their sympathetic comments about Chuck Parson during a dinner conversation, Mr. and Mrs. Jacobsen speculate about the reasons people have such a difficult time empathizing with others. Mr. Jacobsen's hypothesis — that most people simply do not know how to express their emotions in ways other people can understand — captures the essential loneliness and frustration of being human. Through Quentin's experience searching for Margo, which forces him to think critically about his perception of others and brings both his best and worst qualities to the surface, Quentin comes to understand that every person — from goofy and childish Ben to actively vicious Chuck Parson — acts mostly out of a need for patience, acceptance, and love.  

The fundamental mistake I had always made — and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make — was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the novel, Quentin constantly discovers and rediscovers Margo's humanity. In this moment, during an illuminating dinner conversation with his parents, he perceives both Margo's complexity and the tremendous ordinariness of that complexity. Though he has already confronted the fact that Margo's inner life may have been much darker than he realized — that she may have planned to take her own life, for instance — he still has not been able to think about her as an ordinary person.

Even at the darkest and most frightening extremes of his imagination, Quentin has always related to Margo as a character in a story, someone larger than life whose mind and experience bore no resemblance to his own. Now, imagining the possibility that Margo may have suffered from something as ordinary as loneliness and a sense of isolation — that she may have fled Orlando, not because she was living in a grand and dramatic narrative, but because she felt trapped and had no idea what else to do — Quentin begins a new stage in the development of his empathetic imagination. 

Part 2, Chapter 16 Quotes

I couldn’t help but think about school and everything else ending. I liked standing just outside the couches and watching them — it was a kind of sad I didn’t mind, and so I just listened, letting all the happiness and the sadness of this ending swirl around in me, each sharpening the other. For the longest time, it felt kind of like my chest was cracking open, but not precisely in an unpleasant way.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Ben Starling, Radar, Lacey Pemberton
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

Since the beginning of the novel, Quentin has maintained a cool, critical distance from the experience of finishing high school: he refuses to go to prom, balks at the sentimentality of his parents and peers, and takes a laissez-faire attitude toward the graduation ceremony itself, ultimately skipping it to drive to Agloe in search of Margo. In this scene, attending a laid-back party with his friends and acquaintances from the school band, he allows himself to feel emotional about the coming transition for the first time. The fact that Quentin allows himself this moment of authentic feeling—after months, or possibly years, of acting aloof and disinterested in order to maintain some semblance of being "cool"—is a sign that he is developing a more mature understanding of himself and the people around him. After working so hard to understand Margo and break down the barrier of her larger-than-life persona, Quentin is coming to a greater appreciation of the power of sincere emotion in an anxious, inauthentic world. 

Part 2, Chapter 17 Quotes

“I know you want to find her. I know she is t he most important thing to you. And that’s cool. But we graduate in, like, a week. I’m not asking you to abandon the search. I’m asking you to come to a party with your two best friends who you have known for half your life.”

Related Characters: Ben Starling (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen, Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

When Quentin declines Ben's invitation to a casual party at Radar's house, Ben offers this firm but uncharacteristically gentle argument to convince him to attend. Ben never really becomes emotionally involved with the search for Margo, and on more than one occasion refuses outright to help Quentin chase down new clues. In light of this, his sympathetic recognition of the fact that Margo is "the most important thing" to Quentin becomes a gesture of solidarity and understanding.

Though Ben is not always the kind of friend Quentin wants him to be, this conversation shows that Ben is trying to be the kind of friend Quentin needs: understanding and compassionate, not jealous or resentful of the fact that Quentin spends more time searching for a girl he barely knows than relishing his last weeks with his best friends, but also protective of Quentin's happiness and psychological wellbeing. Ben wants Quentin to have a normal end-of-high-school experience, and to take the time to reminisce and appreciate what he has gone through.

In some ways, this is also an effort to ensure that Quentin keeps moving forward: that he goes through the normal process of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, because otherwise he risks becoming trapped in this moment, too obsessed with Margo's disappearance to go on with his own life. Despite all the ways in which he fails to meet Quentin's expectations, Ben shows himself here to be a genuine friend. 

Part 2, Chapter 19 Quotes

It is so hard to leave — until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

This thought occurs to Quentin on his last day of high school, after he dumps the contents of his locker into the garbage and drives away for the last time. Though he feels sentimental wandering through the halls, he feels suddenly free and deeply content as he leaves this period of his life behind, knowing he'll never return. 

Quentin's exhilaration shines some light on Margo's decision to cut all ties in Orlando and leave her home, friends, and family behind. The feeling of independence is thrilling, but even more importantly, cutting all ties and escaping into a new life eliminates the need to really confront the loss and the feelings that come with it. Though Quentin seems very brave and bold as he drives away, he is really avoiding the hard work of acknowledging and coping with his emotions: his resentment for all the bullying and injustice, his dissatisfaction at the shallowness and superficiality, and also the deep gratitude and love he feels for some of the people and experiences he had in high school. Cutting ties without a second thought is, as Quentin realizes at this moment, "the easiest goddam thing in the world" — but living life fully sometimes necessitates doing the more difficult thing. When Quentin attends a graduation party with his friends soon after this moment, he will face the complicated emotions that come with graduation in a more genuine way; this experience, rather than the heady escape in this scene, will better help prepare him to move on.  

Part 3, Hour 12 Quotes

I blame her for this ridiculous, fatal chase — for putting us at risk, for making me into the kind of jackass who would stay up all night and drive too fast. I would not be dying were it not for her. I would have stayed home, and I have always stayed home, and I would have been safe, and I would have done the one thing I have always wanted to do, which is grow up.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 268
Explanation and Analysis:

In the final stretch of their road trip to Agloe, an exhausted Quentin fails to notice a massive cow blocking the road. As the car barrels toward the cow, Quentin — recognizing that he and his friends will almost certainly die in the resulting collision — suddenly sees his single-minded fixation on Margo in a harsh new light. He sees his friends' loyalty, and his failure to appreciate them. He also sees what others have been warning him about since he began his search for Margo: that, in his obsession with finding her, he lost his sense of having a self independent from her, with goals and dreams for his own life that existed before Margo's disappearance and had nothing to do with her. 

The anger and resentment Quentin feels at this moment does not last. Still, this brush with disaster awakens Quentin to the world outside his search for Margo. After weeks of feeling like his identity is inextricably intertwined with hers, he recaptures his appreciation for a life that has, for years, had almost nothing to do with her. This moment of self-recognition is the first step toward his eventual decision to return to Orlando and go to college as planned, rather than following Margo to New York.

Part 3, Agloe Quotes

“Oh bullshit. You didn’t come here to make sure I was okay. You came here because you wanted to save poor little Margo from her troubled little self, so that I would be oh-so-thankful to my knight in shining armor that I would strip my clothes off and beg you to ravage my body.”

Related Characters: Margo Roth Spiegelman (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:

Margo's cynical interpretation of Quentin's actions might have been accurate (though exaggerated) at the beginning of the novel, when Quentin felt sure her disappearance was only an elaborate game. But Quentin has grown and changed a great deal since Margo first disappeared, and her presumptuous criticism shows that her failures of compassion and imagination have been just as deep as Quentin's.

At the same time, Margo's rage at being found — and the shock that rage inspires in Quentin — reveals all the ways in which Quentin, for all his growth, still expected their relationship to follow the patterns of a neat-and-tidy fairy tale story. Quentin has assumed since the beginning that Margo wanted to be found, and though he has released many of his fantastic ideas about what might happen after their reunion, he certainly seems to have expected some kind of gratitude from her. Though Quentin has spent weeks learning about Margo and working to better understand her, this moment is a reminder of the fact that he and Margo still know next to nothing about each other. No amount of imagination can allow one person to understand another as intimately as a real, human interaction can.  

“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 … Because it’s kind of great, being an idea that everybody likes. But I could never be the idea to myself, not all the way.”

Related Characters: Margo Roth Spiegelman (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen
Page Number: 293-294
Explanation and Analysis:

In her conversation with Quentin in Agloe, Margo acknowledges that she was complicit in her own objectification — that she encouraged other people to see her as a beautiful idea rather than a human being, because it was easier to fulfill their expectations than to make herself vulnerable to rejection by exposing her flaws and the messiness of her inner life. It is important for both Margo and Quentin to recognize that being "paper" is something a person can actively choose when they do not feel brave enough or safe enough to show their true selves to others.

Authenticity takes courage, but it is also a necessary step before a person can find real happiness and connection. Margo tried to live as a "paper girl" in Orlando, but found she could never ignore the things that made her complex and human. She runs away because she can no longer abide her own cool, aloof persona — to be fulfilled in life, she needs to form relationships based on honesty and sincerity, and gain a deeper understanding of her real self. 

She can see it in my face — I understand now that I can’t be her and she can’t be me. Maybe Whitman had a gift I don’t have. But as for me: I must ask the wounded man where he is hurt, because I cannot become the wounded man. The only wounded man I can be is me.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Related Symbols: “Song of Myself”
Page Number: 298
Explanation and Analysis:

After Quentin hears Margo's explanation of her disappearance, he tells her that he understands her reasons for leaving Orlando, but that he believes she can come back with him and resume her life on her own terms. When Margo immediately rejects this idea, Quentin is forced finally to release his dreams of a neat and tidy ending to their story. As much as he wants Margo to come home with him and continue building the relationship that has only just started between them, he has to recognize that her needs are different from his own. She is not able to give him what he wants — a stable, sure relationship — while still being true to herself. Their relationship is insufficient to draw her back into a life she does not want, or to protect her from falling back into her old ways. Likewise, Quentin cannot do what Margo will soon ask of him — run away to New York and start a new life with her — while still being true to himself. Quentin sees this truth through Whitman's "Song of Myself," of course, and here recognizes that he isn't as fundamentally optimistic about human connection as Whitman is — Quentin believes in empathy and connection, but not in the kind of perfect union Whitman describes (in which a person can become another). Margo and Quentin have achieved remarkable understanding of and love for one another, but this does not resolve all the problems and complications in their lives, and it does not guarantee that their relationship will be an easy or successful one.

Imagining isn’t perfect. You can’t get all the way inside someone else. I could never have imagined Margo’s anger at being found, or the story she was writing over. But imagining being someone else, or the world being something else, is the only way in.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 299
Explanation and Analysis:

During their day together in Agloe, Quentin hears Margo's version of their shared story: the death of Robert Joyner, their years of tepid friendship throughout high school, their night of adventures, and her disappearance. He realizes that, as hard as he has tried to understand Margo, he can never presume to know her fully. This is an important addendum to all the lessons Quentin has learned about compassion and empathy; before he can truly humanize others, he has to recognize and accept that there will always be parts of them that he cannot access. To proceed through life without this understanding would be arrogant, and would ultimately be just as dehumanizing as never trying to empathize with others at all.

At the same time as he acknowledges the limits of empathetic imagination, Quentin recognizes that his efforts to see Margo more clearly have been powerful and necessary. Though he will never know everything about her, he has to make the effort of imagining himself into her heart and mind, if only because that effort shows his willingness to see her in all her complexity. 

When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 302
Explanation and Analysis:

In Agloe, Quentin searches for a metaphor that can capture his new understanding of the complex way in which human beings relate to one another: the impossibility of ever really knowing another person, as Whitman's metaphor of the interconnected roots of grass suggests, and the desperate hunger for love and compassion that he has come to understand during his search for Margo. He conceives of the metaphor of human beings as watertight vessels that become cracked and imperfect over time, until they eventually split open to reveal their contents. Like those vessels, whose contents are invisible to begin with, human beings keep their deepest and truest selves hidden from others as long as they can. As life goes on, however, pain and other profound experiences "crack" people open, making it impossible for them to hide their true selves. 

Margo's disappearance exposes Quentin to the most difficult and frightening experiences of his life, and forces him to recognize the deep pain that was always part of Margo, but which he was never willing or able to see. When he finally reaches Margo, he perceives his own fragility and vulnerability in how deeply he has come to care for her. In crafting his metaphor of cracked vessels, Quentin recognizes that love and intimacy are the products of compassion. People must allow one another to see their weakness and pain before they can experience deep connection — but in exposing those darker parts of themselves, they open themselves up to the healing forces of love and friendship, and allow the best and most worthy parts of themselves to shine through to others. 

After we kiss, our foreheads touch as we stare at each other. Yes, I can see her almost perfectly in this cracked darkness.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 305
Explanation and Analysis:

It is important that this final line of the novel, after Margo drops Quentin off at his motel and they prepare to part ways, ends not with a kiss but with Margo and Quentin looking directly into one another's faces. While a kiss represents a fairy tale ending — the thing Quentin wanted and expected when he first began searching for Margo — this moment of eye contact represents a new willingness on both their parts to see each other for who they really are. 

It is also worth noting that the novel ends where it began: in the middle of the night, the period when one day transitions into the next. Just as they were on their first night of adventure, Margo and Quentin are here on the brink of a major transition, both in their personal lives and in their relationship to one another. Both are preparing to start new lives — Quentin at college, and Margo in New York — and it is  unclear whether they will ever see each other again. Unlike the fairy tale, which ends with all conflicts solved and questions answered, this final line acknowledges that life is a series of transitions, and that real life is never truly finished. 

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Quentin Jacobsen Character Timeline in Paper Towns

The timeline below shows where the character Quentin Jacobsen appears in Paper Towns. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
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Quentin Jacobsen, reflecting on his childhood, considers the possibility that every person will experience one incredible... (full context)
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Quentin remembers an experience he shared with Margo when they were nine years old. In the... (full context)
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That night, after Quentin has gone to bed following a comforting conversation with his therapist mother, Margo appears at... (full context)
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Quentin, at a loss for words, removes the window screen. He seems to assume Margo will... (full context)
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Quentin concludes, narrating once again from the present, that Margo always loved mysteries, and he wonders... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 1
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Quentin, now a senior at Winter Park High School in Orlando, arrives at school on a... (full context)
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Quentin becomes distracted from the conversation when he sees Margo in the hall. She is standing... (full context)
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Ben and Quentin meet Radar in the hall. Radar deflects conversation about his relationship with Angela by talking... (full context)
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During lunch, Ben admits he wants to go to prom even though Quentin thinks the idea is stupid. He tells Quentin he has already been rejected by one... (full context)
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Talking with Radar after lunch, Quentin and Ben tell him about their conversation with Angela. They tease Radar about the real... (full context)
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After school, Quentin follows the same unremarkable routine he follows every day, watching television and eating dinner with... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
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...is dressed in black and wearing black face paint. Standing outside his window, she tells Quentin that she needs to use his mother’s minivan. When Quentin reminds her that she has... (full context)
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Margo and Quentin’s conversation comes to a sudden close when Margo’s father appears outside and orders her back... (full context)
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Waiting for Margo to return, Quentin collects his car keys. He remembers his disappointment when, on his sixteenth birthday, his parents... (full context)
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Driving through Jefferson Park, Margo tells Quentin that her parents don’t care about her sneaking out, but are only worried about being... (full context)
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Quentin asks Margo where they are going. She tells him that their first stop is the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
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In the parking lot at Publix, Margo gives Quentin a list of items to buy and a hundred-dollar bill with which to pay for... (full context)
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When he returns to the car, Quentin worries aloud that Duke University, where he plans to attend college, will revoke his admission... (full context)
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At Wal-Mart, Margo and Quentin buy a device called The Club, which is designed to lock a car’s steering wheel... (full context)
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Quentin suspects Margo is rambling to avoid his question, and he asks her again why she... (full context)
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...to come with him to a bar after he gets off work. The employee assumes Quentin is Margo’s younger brother. When Quentin, clearly embarrassed, tells the employee that he is not... (full context)
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As the employee walks away, Quentin enjoys the feeling of Margo’s hand and takes the opportunity to put his arm around... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
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Admiring the streetlights as they drive on the highway, Quentin quotes T.S. Eliot, calling them “the visible reminder of Invisible Light.” Margo thinks the words... (full context)
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As their conversation continues, Margo reveals that Jase has been cheating on her with Becca. Quentin is dumbfounded, and tells Margo he saw her laughing with Jase at school that morning.... (full context)
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Quentin wonders aloud why Jase would have sex with Becca. Margo suggests that, since there is... (full context)
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As he and Margo continue driving, Quentin meditates on the injustice of the fact that someone as unpleasant as Jase should get... (full context)
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Quentin and Margo reach Becca’s neighborhood and drive around looking for Jase’s Lexus. When they find... (full context)
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Outside Becca’s house, Margo and Quentin use a pair of binoculars — which Margo stashed in the car early in the... (full context)
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Margo tells Quentin they have to get into the basement while Becca is upstairs getting a lecture from... (full context)
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When they encounter Jase running blindly through the streets near Becca’s house, Quentin takes pity on him and throws Jase’s shirt out the car window. Margo is furious,... (full context)
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Quentin’s heart is still pounding from the stress and fear of being chased by Mr. Arrington.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
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When they begin driving again, Margo directs Quentin to her friend Karin’s house, telling him how she verbally abused Karin after hearing her... (full context)
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Quentin remarks that Jase’s subdivision, Casavilla, is full of “big, ugly homes for big, ugly people.”... (full context)
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Margo admits that the escapade was intense even for her, but assures Quentin that the eighth part of their adventure will be easier. She explains that their next... (full context)
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Quentin rushes to assure Margo that she shouldn’t lose any weight. He thinks at length about... (full context)
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When they arrive at Lacey’s car, Margo jimmies the lock open. Quentin helps her hide a fish — which, like the other two, is accompanied by a... (full context)
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Back in the minivan, Quentin notices that using the spray paint can has left a blue spot on his finger.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
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Downtown Orlando, which consists mostly of office buildings in skyscrapers, is deserted when Margo and Quentin arrive. Though he is aware of Margo sitting next to him, Quentin feels completely alone... (full context)
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Margo directs Quentin to a towering green sculpture, known to teenagers in town as The Asparagus. As he... (full context)
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Margo tells Quentin that they are going to the top of the SunTrust Building to check their progress.... (full context)
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...floor-to-ceiling windows. Leaning against the glass, she points out their houses and Jase’s, then pulls Quentin up next to her. He leans his forehead on the glass despite being worried about... (full context)
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Quentin remarks that Orlando is beautiful, and Margo scoffs. He scrambles to justify himself, points out... (full context)
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Still staring at the city below, Margo tells Quentin that Orlando is a “paper town.” She claims that everything about the town is fake,... (full context)
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Quentin tells Margo that he won’t take her comments about “paper people” personally. Margo apologizes, saying... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
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Back in the minivan, Margo tells Quentin that it is his turn to choose a victim, whose punishment she has already planned.... (full context)
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Margo directs Quentin through Chuck’s subdivision, College Park. She does not remember his address, but points out a... (full context)
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Margo and Quentin climb through the bedroom window and discover, not Chuck, but an old man they have... (full context)
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Quentin and Margo successfully break into Chuck’s house. Margo spreads hair removal cream on Chuck’s right... (full context)
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Speeding away in the minivan, Margo relishes their success and Chuck’s impending humiliation. Quentin asks why Margo hates Chuck, remarking that she was always “kind of friends” with him.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
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Quentin flatly refuses to follow Margo to SeaWorld. He worries about getting caught, and though Margo... (full context)
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Margo is repulsed by the idea that she needed Quentin to accomplish her plans. She tells Quentin that it would have been easy for her... (full context)
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Quentin grudgingly agrees to break into SeaWorld with Margo, but tells Margo that his parents and... (full context)
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Driving to SeaWorld, Quentin thinks about Robert Joyner. He notices that the metaphor Margo once used to explain why... (full context)
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...in by wading through a drainage ditch that runs along one side of the park. Quentin is concerned there might be alligators in the ditch — a reasonable fear, since alligators... (full context)
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...the moat, Margo is bitten by a snake. Fearing the snake is a water moccasin, Quentin tries to suck the poison out of the bite. Margo soon realizes the snake is... (full context)
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Margo and Quentin wander past a row of tanks, but do not see any animals. They encounter a... (full context)
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Margo and Quentin continue walking through the park past the animals’ empty tanks. Margo talks about the anticlimax... (full context)
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Margo and Quentin stop in front of the empty seal tank. Quentin imagines spending the night with her... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 9
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As they drive home in the early morning, Quentin wonders what will change now that he and Margo have shared this experience: whether they... (full context)
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When Margo and Quentin return home, Margo gives Quentin a hug and tells him she will miss hanging out... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
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Quentin sleeps briefly, then wakes up to get ready for school. He considers skipping school to... (full context)
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At school, Quentin notices that Margo’s car is missing from the parking lot, but is not troubled. He... (full context)
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Quentin is exhausted, and falls asleep in his first period class. During lunch, he and Ben... (full context)
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After school, Ben drops Quentin off at home. Quentin notices that Margo’s car is not in her driveway, and concludes... (full context)
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That night, Ben calls Quentin to report the rumors that have begun circulating about Margo’s absence: that she has moved... (full context)
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As he falls asleep, Quentin stares out his bedroom window. He cannot help but hope that Margo will come back... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
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At the beginning of the chapter, Quentin writes that Margo was the “queen” of Winter Park High School, and that after she... (full context)
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Quentin assures the students who have been wronged that he will handle the situation. When he... (full context)
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Later that night, while Quentin and Ben are playing a video game called “Resurrection” in Quentin’s room, Jase and Chuck... (full context)
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After Jase and Chuck leave, Ben and Quentin go back to playing “Resurrection.” Ben soon falls asleep, and Quentin is left meditating on... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
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The next morning is a Saturday, and Quentin comes downstairs to find his parents sitting in the dining room with Margo’s parents and... (full context)
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Detective Warren pulls Quentin aside, where the others cannot hear them. He tells Quentin that he does not approve... (full context)
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...her strings and now has finally broken them and begun to float away. He tells Quentin that his desk is littered with the files of missing people, and says that the... (full context)
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Quentin and Detective Warren return downstairs, and Detective Warren leaves with Margo’s parents to look through... (full context)
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Ben, who has been sleeping upstairs since the night before, emerges from Quentin’s room. Quentin tells Ben about the visit from Detective Warren and the Spiegelmans, and Ben... (full context)
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Glancing out the window, Quentin notices that someone has pulled down the shade in Margo’s room, which her parents raised... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
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Quentin and Radar sit in the Jacobsen’s living room and wait for the Spiegelmans and Detective... (full context)
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In Margo’s room, Quentin is stunned to find hundreds of vinyl records lining the bookshelves. She is apparently obsessed... (full context)
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Quentin shows the album to Radar and Ben. They take the album from its sleeve and... (full context)
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Quentin knows that Walt Whitman is a nineteenth-century American poet. Radar searches Whitman’s name on Omnictionary,... (full context)
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Radar wonders aloud why Margo would leave clues for Quentin this time, when she has always left them for her parents in the past. Quentin... (full context)
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The three boys return to Quentin’s house, and after paging through Leaves of Grass without finding any obvious clues, Ben and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
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On Monday morning, Quentin arrives at school to find Lacey waiting for him outside the band room. She has... (full context)
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As Quentin walks through the hallways, two freshmen whose bikes were destroyed stop to thank him for... (full context)
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At lunch, Quentin finds Ben and Lacey waiting at his locker. Lacey tells Quentin that Margo never allowed... (full context)
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In his last period of the day, Quentin reads Leaves of Grass while his teacher, Dr. Holden, lectures the class on Moby Dick.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
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Quentin, Radar, and Ben return to Jefferson Park. Ruthie lets them into Margo’s room, and they... (full context)
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Quentin and Radar follow Ben back to his house. They play video games and discuss Margo.... (full context)
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Quentin knows Ben’s idea is ludicrous, but he finds it oddly compelling. Still, he cannot stomach... (full context)
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Quentin remembers a former patient his mother once told him about: a nine-year-old boy who, after... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
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Six days after Margo’s disappearance, Quentin tells his parents about her clues. His father suspects that Margo will be coming home... (full context)
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Later that evening, Ben calls Quentin. He is preparing to go shopping with Lacey, to help her pick shoes for prom.... (full context)
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Thinking about Ben, Quentin’s mind wanders to their earlier attempt to remove the doors in Margo’s room. Suddenly, a... (full context)
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Quentin searches the address online and discovers that the place to which it refers is 34.6... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
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In the morning, Quentin forces himself to vomit and tells his mother that he has a stomach bug. She... (full context)
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On the outskirts of Orlando, the land becomes dry and desolate. Quentin notices a patch of undeveloped land with an unfinished blacktop road. A sign refers to... (full context)
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...an abandoned strip mall with boarded-up windows, water damage, and cracked paint. The sight shocks Quentin. It occurs to him that this is the kind of place where a person comes... (full context)
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Quentin remembers Margo saying she did not want to be found dead in Jefferson Park, the... (full context)
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Ben tells Quentin they should leave and bring the police. Radar insists they cannot leave until they have... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
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Quentin, Radar, and Ben walk around the back of the building and discover the bloated corpse... (full context)
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...Ben decides he is going to break through the particleboard covering the windows, and though Quentin urges him not to, he takes a running start and slams his body into the... (full context)
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...“Troll Hole” painted in orange beside it. In the room beyond, there is another hole. Quentin, Ben, and Radar climb through both holes and emerge into what Ben recognizes as an... (full context)
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...notices a patch of wall that seems to have been recently painted. Under the paint, Quentin can make out faint red graffiti. Radar drops the small flashlight they have been using,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
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At home, Quentin reads “Song of Myself” and tries to determine whether it is “a suicide-note kind of... (full context)
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Frustrated by his conversation with Warren, Quentin begins search for the phrase “paper town” online. He finds a comment in a discussion... (full context)
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Quentin sends an instant message to Radar, telling him his theory. Radar tells Quentin to calm... (full context)
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The next day, Quentin borrows RHAPAW and drives to Grovepoint Acres. He finds himself talking aloud to Margo, promising... (full context)
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In Holly Meadows, Quentin sees an oak tree similar to the one under which Robert Joyner’s body was lying... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11
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The next day at school, Quentin tells his friends about his trip to the pseudovisions, though he realizes there isn’t much... (full context)
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That afternoon, listening to Dr. Holden lecture about Moby-Dick during English, it occurs to Quentin that she might have helpful insights about “Song of Myself.” After class, he brings Dr.... (full context)
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Dr. Holden asks Quentin what he thinks of the poem. Quentin admits that he has mostly been reading the... (full context)
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Quentin hangs out with Ben and Radar after school, but he declines their invitation to come... (full context)
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Quentin borrows his mother’s minivan, telling her that he has decided to go to prom after... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
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Quentin arrives at the strip mall to find that someone has been there since his last... (full context)
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Quentin is convinced that Margo has been staying in the mall, and resolves to stay there... (full context)
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Quentin pokes through the different rooms, and finds only one that seems as though someone has... (full context)
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Quentin checks in with his father, telling him that he will be spending the night at... (full context)
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Quentin lingers over one part of “Song of Myself” in which a child asks the poet... (full context)
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Quentin realizes that the most important question is not what happened to Margo, but who she... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 13
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Quentin falls asleep, but wakes up around 3 o’clock in the morning to the sound of... (full context)
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Quentin arrives at Becca’s house and finds Ben doing a keg stand while Jase holds him... (full context)
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Chuck approaches Quentin, looking intimidating, and asks whether Quentin was the person who shaved his eyebrow. He laughs... (full context)
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Quentin wanders downstairs, looking to get away from the noise and crowd. He sees Becca and... (full context)
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Lacey asks Quentin to take her to the strip mall, and Quentin tells her about discovering Margo’s blanket... (full context)
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Around 5 o’clock, Quentin wakes Lacey. They go upstairs and find Ben carrying a sword made of empty beer... (full context)
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Driving home with Ben sleeping in the backseat, Lacey admits to Quentin that Ben “tries too hard” — that he wants badly and obviously for other people... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
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The next day, Quentin calls Ben. He wants to tell Ben about his discoveries in the strip mall the... (full context)
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After leaving his message to Ben, Quentin calls Radar. Radar arrives at Quentin’s house a few minutes later, and Quentin describes the... (full context)
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...account and tracking the IP addresses of people who search for the phrase “paper towns.” Quentin is surprised to learn that Radar has been working so hard to find Margo. (full context)
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Radar suggests inviting Ben to brainstorm and play video games. When Quentin refuses, Radar suggests he should be more accepting of other people. Quentin is as flawed... (full context)
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Waiting for Ben to arrive, Quentin asks Radar about Angela. Radar says things are good between them, that they did not... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15
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Quentin spends Monday afternoon reading Whitman. He begins listening to the same album of Woody Guthrie... (full context)
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During dinner, Quentin’s mother tells him about meeting Chuck’s mother, Betty Parson, the previous day. She tells Quentin... (full context)
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Quentin’s father says working as a therapist has taught him that human beings “lack good mirrors,”... (full context)
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Listening to his parents’ conversation, it occurs to Quentin that he has never thought about Margo as a person — all his attempts to... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 16
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After school on Tuesday, Quentin and Lacey wait together for Ben and Radar to finish band practice. The four of... (full context)
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...is in Orlando, watching them look for her. Lacey defends the possibility of New York. Quentin thinks about how each of them have formed their own private version of Margo, each... (full context)
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Inside the strip mall, Quentin and his friends encounter another group of people exploring the building. Lacey recognizes Gus, the... (full context)
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With the explorers gone, Quentin and his friends look around the rooms. Lacey says she remembers Margo’s black notebook, though... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 17
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On Friday evening, Quentin drives to Collier Farms. The land is swampy and overgrown. Though he is full of... (full context)
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Driving to the last pseudovision on his list, Logan Pines, Quentin gets a call from Ben. Radar’s parents have left town — a black Santa collector... (full context)
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There is nothing in Logan Pines to suggest anyone has been there. Quentin finds the concrete foundation of a house that was never built. He cannot understand why... (full context)
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Quentin drives back to Jefferson Park. He arrives at Radar’s house to find Radar putting away... (full context)
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The party is relaxed, with little drinking and lots of storytelling. Ben, Radar, and Quentin reaffirm their commitment to being naked under their robes at graduation, and some of their... (full context)
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In bed, Quentin pages through “Song of Myself.” He looks at the map pinned to his wall, and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
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Early the next morning, Quentin tells Radar about his new hypothesis — that the holes in the wall at the... (full context)
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Searching through a box of maps and brochures in the strip mall, Quentin and Radar discover a map called “Five Thousand American Cities.” Quentin sees pinholes in the... (full context)
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At home, Quentin studies for his Latin final and talks with Lacey over instant messenger about Margo’s black... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 19
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At school the next day, Radar tells Quentin that he has built a new program for Omnictionary, which allows users to search a... (full context)
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Reading “Song of Myself” that night, Quentin pauses over one line: “I do not ask the wounded person how he feels …... (full context)
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Quentin struggles through the rest of his final exams, and arrives at his last-ever day of... (full context)
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After school, Quentin decides to clean out his locker while Radar and Ben attend band practice to rehearse... (full context)
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Walking home, Quentin discovers that though the process of leaving is difficult, the actual act of leaving feels... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 20
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Quentin spends that afternoon and the next day trying to uncover some new insight into Margo’s... (full context)
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Quentin tells Radar about the minivan. He agrees to let Radar store a cooler full of... (full context)
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After getting out of the shower, Quentin turns on the program Radar created a few days earlier, that collects the first sentences... (full context)
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The article claims Agloe has a population of zero, but in the comments section, Quentin discovers a recent message from an anonymous user, which claims that there will, in fact,... (full context)
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Quentin discovers online that driving from Orlando to Agloe will take 19 hours and four minutes.... (full context)
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Radar and Ben convince Quentin to stop by the school on his way out of town, to explain to his... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 2
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Quentin and his friends begin playing a variation on I Spy, in which they are only... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 4
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...the store collecting provisions. As they run back to the car with their arms full, Quentin feels elated: young, goofy, and infinite. They high five one another as they merge back... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 5
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...their new provisions as they continue on their drive, Lacey is frustrated to find that Quentin forgot the healthy food she instructed him to buy. She remarks that she cannot eat... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 6
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Stuck in traffic in South Carolina, Quentin and Radar invent a game in which they take turns imagining the lives of people... (full context)
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Radar’s alternative version of the woman’s life story makes Quentin think of all the ways human beings fail to imagine one another accurately. Radar remarks... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 7
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Quentin and his friends have agreed to sleep in shifts, so Ben and Lacey are lying... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 8
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Quentin remarks on all the new things he has learned about himself while driving: that he... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 9
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Quentin and Radar discover, as the hour approaches when they are supposed to trade places with... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 10
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As they prepare for their next gas station stop, Radar and Quentin wake Lacey and Ben. Quentin buys pants and a new t-shirt for Radar, which has... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 11
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Quentin and his friends pass through the construction zone, where it is impossible to drive faster... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 12
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It is 2:40 a.m. and Quentin is driving while Radar and Lacey sleep. Ben sits in the passenger seat. He admits... (full context)
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Quentin is annoyed at Ben for lecturing him. He is about to respond when two massive... (full context)
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As Quentin releases the steering wheel, Ben reaches over and swerves onto the shoulder of the road.... (full context)
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Quentin turns off the engine, and all four of them hear liquid pouring out from some... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 13
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As they continue driving, Radar, Lacey, and Quentin marvel aloud at what has just happened. They praise Ben lavishly for his heroism. Ben,... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 14
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As they resume driving, Quentin and his friends clean the broken glass and spilled soda from the floor of the... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 15-18
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Quentin finds comfort in the consistency created by fast food restaurants and gas station chains. He... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 19
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Quentin wakes up to find Radar and Ben evaluating possible names for the minivan. Ben wants... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 20
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As they drive through upstate New York, Quentin starts a game of Metaphysical I Spy. Ben’s first clue is: “I spy with my... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 21
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As they get close to Agloe, Lacey and Quentin begin listing everything they know about Margo, from the make of her car to the... (full context)
Part 3, Agloe
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...on highway outside Roscoe, a town near the intersection where Agloe General Store supposedly stands, Quentin and his friend spot a crumbling barn in the field beside a dirt road. Lacey... (full context)
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...a tepid hug or handshake. She seems at a loss for what to say, and Quentin is disappointed that there is not more drama in this moment — no tears or... (full context)
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With the others gone, Margo and Quentin launch into a massive fight. Margo is angry at Quentin for coming to Agloe, telling... (full context)
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Quentin’s criticisms send Margo into a fit of temper, which has the odd effect of calming... (full context)
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Lacey calls Quentin’s cell phone, asking to speak to Margo. While they talk, apparently amiably, Quentin explores the... (full context)
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Quentin asks Margo to explain her plan, to help him understand what was and wasn’t intentional,... (full context)
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Margo tells Quentin that she began planning her final night in Orlando during their junior year of high... (full context)
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Quentin asks Margo why she would come to Agloe, of all places. Margo explains that she... (full context)
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Quentin encourages Margo to come home with him, telling her she can stay with his family... (full context)
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Margo borrows Quentin’s phone and calls her family. She has a tense conversation with her mother, then talks... (full context)
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Margo and Quentin walk through the fields outside the barn, and he tells her everything that has happened... (full context)
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Quentin wakes around sunset, and sees Margo digging a few feet from him. He kneels next... (full context)
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Margo tells Quentin that she never thought of Robert Joyner as a real person, and instead thought of... (full context)
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Quentin kisses Margo. Margo asks Quentin to come to New York with her, but they both... (full context)
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Margo takes Quentin to the motel where Lacey, Radar, and Ben are staying. They promise to call and... (full context)