Paper Towns

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Paper Towns Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
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 them. The list includes, among other things, three catfish, a dozen tulips, a can of blue spray paint, and hair-removal cream. Reading the list, he comments on her unusual capitalization style: she capitalizes words at random, in the middle of sentences rather than at the beginning. Margo tells him that she finds conventional rules of capitalization unfair to words in the middle. Quentin goes inside alone to buy the items, while Margo waits for him in the parking lot.
The odd combination of items Margo asks Quentin to buy herald a strange night ahead, and also emphasizes the odd and unpredictable nature of her mind. Her list provides no insight into her plans for the evening, and so heightens the sense of mystery surrounding her, while her unconventional capitalization creates an aura of studied quirkiness. Though she seems nonchalant, there is a sense that everything Margo does is intended to create a certain impression.
Themes
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
When he returns to the car, Quentin worries aloud that Duke University, where he plans to attend college, will revoke his admission if he gets arrested. Margo expresses amazement at the fact that Quentin can be interested in things like college, school, or the future. Quentin begins to protest with a comment about Margo’s academic success — her good grades and her admission to the University of Florida — but Margo urges him on toward their next stop, Wal-Mart.
Margo’s condescending answer to Quentin’s anxiety reveals both her disregard for his feelings and her general disenchantment with the values and conventions that guide her peers. Her academic success may be evidence of hypocrisy—that she’s only pretending not to care—or may simply show how hard it can be to disregard others’ expectations.
Themes
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
At Wal-Mart, Margo and Quentin buy a device called The Club, which is designed to lock a car’s steering wheel into place. Quentin asks Margo’s reason for buying The Club, but Margo ignores him. She goes on an unprompted diatribe about her belief that, as the average human life span has lengthened, people have begun to spend more and more of their lives planning for the future. She claims that this pattern has reached a point where every moment of life is lived for the future.
Margo has now become very open and eager to talk about her personal philosophy. Her distaste for the idea of living for the future — planning for a career and an adult life, as the people who surround her tend to — suggests dissatisfaction with the life she is living and path she is on, and her desire to do something more fulfilling in the present rather than wait and hope to be happy later on.
Themes
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Quentin suspects Margo is rambling to avoid his question, and he asks her again why she needs The Club. She promises that everything will become clear before the night ends, and changes the subject by taking an air horn from the shelf. Quentin orders her not to blow it, but she blows it anyway.
While Margo is happy to talk about her abstract ideas, she keeps Quentin ignorant of the basic facts. This allows her to maintain control of both him and their situation, but is also evidence of her desire to talk about things that bother her — something Quentin does not notice or respond to.
Themes
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Get the entire Paper Towns LitChart as a printable PDF.
Paper towns.pdf.medium
A Wal-Mart employee appears and tells Margo she needs to stop blowing the air horn. The employee is visibly interested in and attracted to Margo, and invites her 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 Margo’s brother, Margo puts her arm around his waist and announces that Quentin is both her cousin and her lover.
The Wal-Mart employee’s mistake in referring to Quentin as Margo’s little brother plays to Quentin’s insecurities about being less adult — and, though it is never said outright, less sexy — than Margo. When she brings Quentin back into the conversation with her joke, Margo “chooses” him again, dismissing the employee who ignored him and bolstering Quentin’s confidence. This is a gesture of sincere friendship.
Themes
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
As the employee walks away, Quentin enjoys the feeling of Margo’s hand and takes the opportunity to put his arm around her. He tells her that she is his favorite cousin, and she answers, “Don’t I know it?” She smiles and shimmies out of his embrace.
Quentin presumes an intimacy with Margo at this moment that he has not shown before, touching her and joking with her. Margo’s playful response shows that she is not unhappy with this intimacy, but she deflects it nevertheless by moving away.
Themes
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon