Paper Towns

Paper Towns

Ben Starling Character Analysis

Quentin’s best friend. Ben is goofy, frank, and often insensitive, but he is sincerely loyal to his friends and supports Quentin in his search for Margo despite having little personal interest in the mission. Like his friends, Ben begins the novel as an outcast. He wants badly to fit in and be liked, but ends up being the butt of many of his classmates’ jokes. When he begins dating Lacey, however, Ben finds himself included among many of the popular kids who tormented him in school.

Ben Starling Quotes in Paper Towns

The Paper Towns quotes below are all either spoken by Ben Starling or refer to Ben Starling. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Speak edition of Paper Towns published in 2009.
Part 1, Chapter 1 Quotes

It was so pathetically easy to forget about Chuck, to talk about prom even though I didn’t give a shit about prom. Such was life that morning: nothing really mattered much, not the good things and not the bad ones. We were in the business of mutual amusement, and we were reasonably prosperous.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Ben Starling, Radar, Chuck Parson
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Part 2, Chapter 9 Quotes

YOU WILL GO TO THE PAPER TOWNS
AND YOU WILL NEVER COME BACK

Related Characters: Margo Roth Spiegelman (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen, Ben Starling
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 2, Chapter 14 Quotes

“You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it’s going with my girlfriend — but I don’t give a shit, man, because you’re you.”

Related Characters: Radar (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen, Ben Starling
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 2, Chapter 16 Quotes

I couldn’t help but think about school and everything else ending. I liked standing just outside the couches and watching them — it was a kind of sad I didn’t mind, and so I just listened, letting all the happiness and the sadness of this ending swirl around in me, each sharpening the other. For the longest time, it felt kind of like my chest was cracking open, but not precisely in an unpleasant way.

Related Characters: Quentin Jacobsen (speaker), Ben Starling, Radar, Lacey Pemberton
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Part 2, Chapter 17 Quotes

“I know you want to find her. I know she is t he most important thing to you. And that’s cool. But we graduate in, like, a week. I’m not asking you to abandon the search. I’m asking you to come to a party with your two best friends who you have known for half your life.”

Related Characters: Ben Starling (speaker), Quentin Jacobsen, Margo Roth Spiegelman
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia dese

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Ben Starling Character Timeline in Paper Towns

The timeline below shows where the character Ben Starling appears in Paper Towns. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...in Orlando, arrives at school on a Wednesday morning. He learns from his best friend Ben Starling that another of their friends, Radar, has made plans to go to prom with... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Ben and Quentin meet Radar in the hall. Radar deflects conversation about his relationship with Angela... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
During lunch, Ben admits he wants to go to prom even though Quentin thinks the idea is stupid.... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
Talking with Radar after lunch, Quentin and Ben tell him about their conversation with Angela. They tease Radar about the real reason his... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
Friendship Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
After school, Ben drops Quentin off at home. Quentin notices that Margo’s car is not in her driveway,... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
That night, Ben calls Quentin to report the rumors that have begun circulating about Margo’s absence: that she... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Later that night, while Quentin and Ben are playing a video game called “Resurrection” in Quentin’s room, Jase and Chuck arrive at... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
After Jase and Chuck leave, Ben and Quentin go back to playing “Resurrection.” Ben soon falls asleep, and Quentin is left... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
Friendship Theme Icon
Ben, who has been sleeping upstairs since the night before, emerges from Quentin’s room. Quentin tells... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...Warren to leave the house. When all the adults are finally gone, the boys collect Ben — who has been upstairs playing “Resurrection” while Quentin and Radar keep watch — and... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Quentin shows the album to Radar and Ben. They take the album from its sleeve and are disappointed to find that there is... (full context)
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...searching for a book of Whitman’s poetry among Margo’s things. He finds nothing useful, but Ben notices a copy of Whitman’s book Leaves of Grass on the bookshelf. Radar is sure... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
...to Quentin’s house, and after paging through Leaves of Grass without finding any obvious clues, Ben and Radar go home. Quentin spends the rest of the afternoon reading the longest poem... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...for not telling her about Jase and Becca. Lacey insists she knew nothing, and tells Ben and Quentin that she has just broken up with her boyfriend because he was hiding... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
...to New York, but finds nothing of interest. A few minutes into class, he sees Ben doing a victory dance outside the classroom door — Lacey has agreed to go to... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
At lunch, Quentin finds Ben and Lacey waiting at his locker. Lacey tells Quentin that Margo never allowed people into... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
...lectures the class on Moby Dick. After class ends, he sits in RHAPAW waiting for Ben and Radar to finish band practice and wondering what Margo might be doing in New... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
...Margo’s next clue. He wonders whether Margo was trying to make a comment about close-mindedness. Ben says Radar is overestimating the complexity of Margo’s clue, and that the highlighted lines are... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Quentin, Radar, and Ben return to Jefferson Park. Ruthie lets them into Margo’s room, and they remove the lock... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Quentin and Radar follow Ben back to his house. They play video games and discuss Margo. Ben insists that Margo... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Quentin knows Ben’s idea is ludicrous, but he finds it oddly compelling. Still, he cannot stomach the idea... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
...he has always found routine and boredomcomforting. As he goes about his routine after leaving Ben’s house, however, he cannot help thinking about his refusal to go to New York in... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Later that evening, Ben calls Quentin. He is preparing to go shopping with Lacey, to help her pick shoes... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
Thinking about Ben, Quentin’s mind wanders to their earlier attempt to remove the doors in Margo’s room. Suddenly,... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
...and discovers that the place to which it refers is 34.6 miles away. He calls Ben and announces a plan to drive to Bartlesville Avenue that night. Ben tells Quentin that... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...a stomach bug. She leaves for work, telling him to call if he needs anything. Ben and Radar arrive shortly after she leaves. They are blasting music, and the three of... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Ben tells Quentin they should leave and bring the police. Radar insists they cannot leave until... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Quentin, Radar, and Ben walk around the back of the building and discover the bloated corpse of a raccoon.... (full context)
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Radar attempts to open a door, but has no success. Ben decides he is going to break through the particleboard covering the windows, and though Quentin... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
...Hole” painted in orange beside it. In the room beyond, there is another hole. Quentin, Ben, and Radar climb through both holes and emerge into what Ben recognizes as an abandoned... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Poking around the room, it becomes clear that Margo is not there. Ben notices a patch of wall that seems to have been recently painted. Under the paint,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...Radar tells Quentin to calm down, though he admits that the evidence doesn’t look good. Ben, whom Quentin calls after finishing his conversation with Radar, is dismissive. He believes Margo is... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...suicide, but Quentin keeps pushing her to think of places Margo might have gone until Ben tells him to leave Lacey alone. (full context)
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Quentin hangs out with Ben and Radar after school, but he declines their invitation to come along to a pre-prom... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...her that he has decided to go to prom after all, and that he and Ben will be going stag together. Instead of going to pick out a tuxedo, as he... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
...checks in with his father, telling him that he will be spending the night at Ben’s house after prom. He lays on the floor, looking at the sky through cracks in... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 13
Friendship Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
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.... (full context)
Leaving Home and Growing Up 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... (full context)
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Driving home with Ben sleeping in the backseat, Lacey admits to Quentin that Ben “tries too hard” — that... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The next day, Quentin calls Ben. He wants to tell Ben about his discoveries in the strip mall the night before,... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
After leaving his message to Ben, Quentin calls Radar. Radar arrives at Quentin’s house a few minutes later, and Quentin describes... (full context)
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Radar suggests inviting Ben to brainstorm and play video games. When Quentin refuses, Radar suggests he should be more... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Waiting for Ben to arrive, Quentin asks Radar about Angela. Radar says things are good between them, that... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 16
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
After school on Tuesday, Quentin and Lacey wait together for Ben and Radar to finish band practice. The four of them have made plans to visit... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
...tour of America’s strangest roadside attractions, like the world’s largest ball of twine in Minnesota. Ben repeats his conviction that Margo is in Orlando, watching them look for her. Lacey defends... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
...never asking Margo why she seemed so depressed. In response, the Carpenter insults Lacey, and Ben gets involved, tackling and punching the Carpenter. Gus and his friends leave quickly. (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
...terrible for never asking Margo about it, or about anything else that now seems important. Ben speculates that the holes in the wall must be places where Margo hung up postcards... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 17
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Driving to the last pseudovision on his list, Logan Pines, Quentin gets a call from Ben. Radar’s parents have left town — a black Santa collector in Pittsburgh has died suddenly,... (full context)
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...that the Santas are more beautiful and interesting than Radar gives them credit for, when Ben appears in the bedroom. He tells them that Lacey has just kissed him, and that... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
The party is relaxed, with little drinking and lots of storytelling. Ben, Radar, and Quentin reaffirm their commitment to being naked under their robes at graduation, and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 18
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
...go over. Quentin picks Radar up a few hours later, but they fail to convince Ben to get out of bed and join them. Driving to the strip mall, Radar talks... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
...that Margo must have used it to plan her schemes and dramatic gestures. Radar and Ben sign on, and Radar announces his new theory: that Margo will return in time for... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 19
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
...view the first sentences of up to one hundred Omnictionary articles related to the category. Ben arrives, saying that he and Lacey spent the night plotting different possible routes Margo could... (full context)
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
After school, Quentin decides to clean out his locker while Radar and Ben attend band practice to rehearse the graduation concert. He soon grows overwhelmed by the thought... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 20
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
...until, according to the comment, Margo is scheduled to leave Agloe. He calls Radar and Ben, who are at school waiting for graduation to begin. Radar is amazed by what Quentin... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Radar and Ben convince Quentin to stop by the school on his way out of town, to explain... (full context)
Part 3, The First Hour
Friendship Theme Icon
...the speed they’ll need to travel to reach Agloe before noon the next day, and Ben makes frequent remarks about needing to pee, which are ridiculed and dismissed by his traveling... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 3
Friendship Theme Icon
...their first gas station stop, which according to Radar’s itinerary is still two hours away. Ben is now desperate to pee, and since they cannot stop, Radar empties two of the... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 4
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...they will be able to get everything they need — food, gas, and clothes for Ben and Radar, among other things — in the six minutes Radar has allotted for the... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 5
Friendship Theme Icon
...She remarks that she cannot eat the junk food he bought for himself, Radar, and Ben, because it will make her fat. Quentin finally coaxes her into trying a chocolate- flavored... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 9
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...discover, as the hour approaches when they are supposed to trade places with the still-sleeping Ben and Lacey, that they have consumed too much Bluefin to imagine falling asleep. They agree... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 10
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
As they prepare for their next gas station stop, Radar and Quentin wake Lacey and Ben. Quentin buys pants and a new t-shirt for Radar, which has the slogan “World’s Best... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 12
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
It is 2:40 a.m. and Quentin is driving while Radar and Lacey sleep. Ben sits in the passenger seat. He admits that he is worried about how Quentin might... (full context)
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Leaving Home and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Quentin is annoyed at Ben for lecturing him. He is about to respond when two massive cows suddenly appear in... (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
As Quentin releases the steering wheel, Ben reaches over and swerves onto the shoulder of the road. The car is spinning as... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
...determine that, except for a gash in the sliding door, everything is fine. Quentin commends Ben on his heroism, and Ben assures Quentin that he was only trying to save himself.... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 13
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
...continue driving, Radar, Lacey, and Quentin marvel aloud at what has just happened. They praise Ben lavishly for his heroism. Ben, embarrassed, again insists he was only thinking of himself. Seeing... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 19
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Quentin wakes up to find Radar and Ben evaluating possible names for the minivan. Ben wants to name it Muhammad Ali, and Radar... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 20
Friendship Theme Icon
As they drive through upstate New York, Quentin starts a game of Metaphysical I Spy. Ben’s first clue is: “I spy with my little eye something I really like.” The answer... (full context)
Part 3, Hour 21
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
...know about Margo, from the make of her car to the color of her hair. Ben points out that they already know this information, but Quentin does not care. He wants... (full context)
Part 3, Agloe
Human Connection Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...parked outside the barn, and Quentin leaps out of the car and runs to investigate. Ben, Radar, and Lacey follow him into the barn. Inside, they find Margo writing in her... (full context)
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
...cavalier attitude infuriates Lacey, who calls Margo a bitch and storms out of the barn. Ben and Radar follow her, but Quentin stays behind. (full context)
Human Connection Theme Icon
Margo takes Quentin to the motel where Lacey, Radar, and Ben are staying. They promise to call and write, and Quentin says he will try to... (full context)