Paper Towns

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Paper Towns Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Quentin sleeps briefly, then wakes up to get ready for school. He considers skipping school to sleep, but decides not to sacrifice his perfect attendance record. His parents do not notice his exhaustion or the smell of algae from the ditch outside SeaWorld. Instead, they spend breakfast talking about his father’s recurring dream of taking a college Hebrew class where students speak and read gibberish rather than Hebrew. Quentin’s mother believes the dream is a metaphor for young adulthood, when people struggle to understand the rules of mature social interaction.
It seems as though Quentin’s psychologist parents should be extremely sensitive to changes in their son, and that a major experience like the one he has just had would register right away. Their obliviousness is a testament to the difficulty of perceiving change in people one knows well: the Jacobsens trust that Quentin will be the same person from one day to the next, and this monumental event is invisible even to their well-trained eyes.
Themes
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
At school, Quentin notices that Margo’s car is missing from the parking lot, but is not troubled. He and Radar talk about prom, until Ben arrives and asks Quentin’s reason for calling him the night before. Quentin points out Chuck’s missing eyebrow and tells Ben and Radar that he was with Margo the night before. Ben and Radar make a series of crude jokes about Quentin having sex with Margo. As he heads to class, Quentin realizes with disappointment that his world has not changed as much as he had expected it would in the wake of his adventure.
Quentin is eagerly looking for the effects of what he considers a major life event. He wants the people around him to think about him differently, as he now thinks about himself differently, and to recognize the same fundamental changes to the order of the world that he perceives. His frustration is specific, but it also represents the larger frustrations of young adulthood, when people feel their lives and minds changing radically and struggle to have those changes respected.
Themes
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Quentin is exhausted, and falls asleep in his first period class. During lunch, he and Ben sit together in Ben’s car, RHAPAW, a clunky hand-me-down whose name is short for “Rode Hard and Put Away Wet.” Quentin gives Ben a detailed account of his night with Margo, but soon finds himself too tired to talk more. He falls asleep in the passenger seat of RHAPAW. When he wakes up, he finds a hamburger and a note from Ben, explaining that he had to return to class.
The friendship Quentin shares with Ben is the center of this scene. That Quentin both trusts Ben with his story of the night before and has no reservations about falling asleep in Ben’s car shows how comfortable they are with each other. Leaving a burger for Quentin is a considerate, and even somewhat protective, gesture on Ben’s part.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
After school, Ben drops Quentin off at home. Quentin notices that Margo’s car is not in her driveway, and concludes that she missed school to have another adventure — this time without him. He realizes that Margo would never have invited him on a daytime adventure, because she would have known that he cared too much about missing school. He wonders what stories she will come back with this time.
It is unlikely that Quentin’s perfect attendance record was a factor in Margo’s decision to leave without him, but Quentin reveals his new understanding of the ways perfectionism limits him when he makes this assumption. He knows his need to follow the rules has stopped him from enjoying life before, and now sees evidence of perfection’s limiting influence everywhere.
Themes
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
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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 into a storage room at Disney World, or that she met a man online. Quentin laughs at these rumors, saying Margo would never do such things, and assures Ben that Margo is off having fun and creating new stories.
Though Quentin had only had one meaningful encounter with Margo in nine years, he acts like an expert on her mind by making statements about what she would or wouldn’t do. He feels ownership over Margo, and presumes deep knowledge that he doesn’t have.
Themes
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
As he falls asleep, Quentin stares out his bedroom window. He cannot help but hope that Margo will come back to sweep him away on another adventure.
Quentin’s fascination with Margo is entirely self-centered. He thinks not of her, but of the effect she has on him.
Themes
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon