Paper Towns

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Paper Towns Part 2, Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Quentin falls asleep, but wakes up around 3 o’clock in the morning to the sound of his phone ringing. Ben is calling from an after-prom party at Becca’s house. He is extremely drunk, and tells Quentin that they need him to act as a designated driver. Grudgingly, Quentin agrees.
The relationship between Ben and Quentin has been strained since Margo’s disappearance, but Quentin still answers when Ben asks him for help. Though their friendship is changing, he is still loyal to Ben.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
Quentin arrives at Becca’s house and finds Ben doing a keg stand while Jase holds him up. The scene seems trivial and embarrassing. He commiserates with sober, annoyed Angela, and learns from a very drunk Radar that he and his friends have become “like folk heroes” to the popular kids, who have taken a particular liking to Ben.
At Becca’s party, conventional social expectations have been erased, and the long-suffering nerds like Ben have a chance for acceptance. Quentin, who has learned to see his outsider status as a mark of superior authenticity, refuses to see the positive side of this change.
Themes
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Chuck approaches Quentin, looking intimidating, and asks whether Quentin was the person who shaved his eyebrow. He laughs when Quentin admits that he was, and applauds Quentin for his chutzpah. The sudden warmth and camaraderie feels painfully disingenuous to Quentin, and he imagines Margo suffering through countless parties like this during her time in school.
Chuck has bullied Quentin for years, and this moment offers them both a chance to make amends and move forward to the next stage of their lives with clean slates. Chuck is too clumsy, though, and Quentin is too bitter to take advantage of that chance for reconciliation.
Themes
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Quentin wanders downstairs, looking to get away from the noise and crowd. He sees Becca and Jase hooking up, and hears Jase accidentally call Becca by Margo’s name. He goes into the nearby bathroom and finds Lacey sitting in the empty bathtub. She invites him to sit with her. She tells Quentin that Becca humiliated her earlier in the evening by interrupting the party to announce that Lacey had an STD. Quentin suggest that Becca may be jealous of Lacey because people genuinely like Lacey, but only appreciate Becca for her looks. Lacey asks Quentin whether he thinks she is superficial. Quentin admits that he does, but assures her that everyone, including him, is superficial.
It becomes clear here that everyone Quentin knows, even the most loathsome of the popular kids, is struggling in their own way. Jase reveals that he is missing and thinking about Margo when he says her name. Becca reveals her ugly insecurities when she turns against Lacey. All people may be superficial, as Quentin suggests, but alongside that superficiality there is always serious and sincere human pain.
Themes
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
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Lacey asks Quentin to take her to the strip mall, and Quentin tells her about discovering Margo’s blanket and nail polish. Lacey is certain that Margo is dead, and disgusted by the idea that everyone is celebrating prom as though nothing has happened. Quentin wonders whether Margo would have wanted for their lives to go on in her absence, and Lacey says that does not sound like the Margo she knew. Quentin thinks about all the different versions of Margo that exist in the minds of different people. Lacey falls asleep in the tub.
Lacey obviously cares about Margo a great deal, and it becomes clear here that the fact that she has been paying attention to prom doesn’t mean she is not feeling Margo’s absence. Quentin’s pessimism about his peers’ superficiality is confounded by Lacey, whose interest in things Quentin finds stupid does not stop her from being a deep-thinking person or a good friend.
Themes
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Around 5 o’clock, Quentin wakes Lacey. They go upstairs and find Ben carrying a sword made of empty beer cans that have been glued together. Ben tells Quentin that he and Radar have made a pact to be naked under their robes at graduation, and Quentin agrees to do the same. As they leave, Quentin and Lacey discover that Ben has super-glued his sword to his hand.
Quentin still values his camaraderie with Radar and Ben, and agreeing to go along with their prank — rather than condescending to them, as he has so often in the past weeks — shows some desire to restore their friendship back to the way it was before Margo.
Themes
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
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 to like him — but says she does not necessarily think that trying hard is a bad thing. Quentin drops her off at home, then wakes Ben and takes him home as well.
Lacey introduces the idea that caring deeply about something that is supposedly superficial can be a form of authenticity. Ben does not play cool or hide his desire for acceptance, and for that reason is more honest than many people.
Themes
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon