Paper Towns

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Margo’s Notebook Symbol Analysis

Margo’s Notebook Symbol Icon
Margo’s notebook is a figure of her developmental processes, and of the growth she has undergone since childhood. Margo fills the notebook when she is a young girl with a story that reflects her dreams, her desires, and her need to see the world as a kinder and more loving place. As she gets older and becomes increasingly disenchanted with her life and dissatisfied with herself, the notebook becomes a place where she escapes from her reality by throwing herself into the work of planning elaborate adventures and schemes and pranks. The notebook is also the place where Margo begins to imagine an alternative life for herself and an alternative way of being, as she begins to plan her final departure from Orlando. Margo carries the book with her at all times, but nobody knows what she uses it for; in this way, it becomes a symbol for the way she keeps her authentic self hidden from others.
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Margo’s Notebook Symbol Timeline in Paper Towns

The timeline below shows where the symbol Margo’s Notebook appears in Paper Towns. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 16
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
...friends, the Carpenter, remembers how Margo would sit in corners and write in a black notebook while the rest of them explored. (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
...gone, Quentin and his friends look around the rooms. Lacey says she remembers Margo’s black notebook, though she never saw Margo writing in it. She feels terrible for never asking Margo... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
Friendship Theme Icon
...studies for his Latin final and talks with Lacey over instant messenger about Margo’s black notebook. They agree that Margo must have used it to plan her schemes and dramatic gestures.... (full context)
Part 3, Agloe
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...Radar, and Lacey follow him into the barn. Inside, they find Margo writing in her notebook. She seems completely unsurprised to see them. She stares at Quentin and he thinks that... (full context)
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Margo asks for five minutes to finish writing. When she closes her notebook, she offers each of them a tepid hug or handshake. She seems at a loss... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
...what was and wasn’t intentional, and what everything meant. Margo begins by showing him her notebook. She explains that, when she was ten years old, she began writing a detective story... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
...a life in Orlando, but she stops his explanation with another kiss. They bury the notebook, saying “Godspeed” to their childhood selves, and to Robert Joyner. Back in the barn, Quentin... (full context)