Paper Towns

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Paper Towns Part 1, Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Back in the minivan, Margo tells Quentin that it is his turn to choose a victim, whose punishment she has already planned. Quentin is at a loss, and claims there is no one he feels the need to punish. Margo suggests Chuck Parson, and reminds Quentin of a humiliating prank Chuck played on him in middle school, when he convinced all the girls in their ballroom dance class (including Margo) to reject Quentin when he asked them to dance. She apologizes for going along with Chuck’s prank. Quentin tells her things are “all good” between them, but the memory of that embarrassment riles him. He agrees that Chuck should be their next victim, and speeds toward Chuck’s house.
Appointing Quentin to choose a victim seems to be Margo’s attempt at empowering him — forcing him to stand up to one of his bullies. However, Margo maintains total control of this situation. She chooses Chuck when Quentin hesitates to give her a name, and in mentioning her guilty memory of having helped humiliate Quentin, she reveals her personal interest in punishing Chuck. She seems to want to redeem herself for mistreating Quentin by taking his side against his bullies.
Themes
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Margo directs Quentin through Chuck’s subdivision, College Park. She does not remember his address, but points out a house that she is “ninety-seven point two percent sure” is the right one. Quentin remarks that entering a house randomly could get them into trouble, but doesn’t hesitate to follow Margo with the spray paint, Vaseline, and hair removal cream in hand. Margo explains that they will be covering the doorknobs in the house with Vaseline, to prevent Chuck and his family from chasing them if they need to leave in a hurry. Walking toward the open window that she claims leads to Chuck’s bedroom, Margo takes Quentin’s hand and squeezes it.
Quentin displays remarkable confidence in Margo, agreeing to follow her into a strange house when she admits she is not sure whether it is even the right place. Though their night has been full of close calls, Quentin has clearly learned to trust Margo, to the point where he is not even seriously afraid of entering a stranger’s house. Margo shows trust herself when she squeezes Quentin’s hand, a gesture of encouragement and camaraderie.
Themes
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Margo and Quentin climb through the bedroom window and discover, not Chuck, but an old man they have never seen sleeping in the bed. They flee the house and drive to the other side of the subdivision to regroup. Quentin remembers that Radar has the log-in information for the school directory. Radar doesn’t pick up his phone, so Quentin calls Ben — who knows all of Radar’s passwords and is groggy, but cooperative — and gets Chuck’s address.
When Margo’s information fails, Quentin assumes a new role as an active, resourceful leader for their team. It is the first moment he has real control of the adventure, since he has a choice of whether to search for Chuck’s address or let the plan fizzle out. He has obviously invested in this particular missions’ success, though it is not clear whether his primary objective is to punish Chuck, impress Margo, or enjoy the thrill of executing the plan.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
Quentin and Margo successfully break into Chuck’s house. Margo spreads hair removal cream on Chuck’s right eyebrow, then she and Quentin spread Vaseline on the doorknobs. Back in Chuck’s bedroom, Quentin wipes the hair removal cream from Chuck’s face, taking Chuck’s entire right eyebrow with him. Chuck wakes up suddenly, screaming to his parents that there is a robbery in progress.
All of Margo’s earlier stunts demonstrate sincere anger, but the “punishment” she plans for Chuck is fairly lighthearted, and seems meant to involve and empower Quentin rather than to send Chuck a message. Margo is not just campaigning for justice; she is trying to help Quentin, too.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
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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. Margo brushes the question off, saying she was always “kind of friends” with a lot people. Then she reveals the final stage of their adventure: breaking into SeaWorld.
Quentin’s question about the friendship between Margo and Chuck — and Margo’s jaded answer — highlights the ways in which Margo, like Quentin, has been a social outcast. She is popular, but the people who admire and include her are only “kind of” her friends. She lacks a sense of real belonging.
Themes
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon