Paper Towns

Paper Towns

Paper Towns Part 2, Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Quentin, Radar, and Ben walk around the back of the building and discover the bloated corpse of a raccoon. They are relieved to know that the stench has not been coming from Margo. Still, Quentin can’t help thinking about “Song of Myself,” with its many lines about the beauty of death, and wondering whether it might have been Margo’s suicide note.
Confronting the notion that Margo may have been suicidal completely changes Quentin’s perspective on the things he has shared with her. Though he thought he was learning to understand her by following her clues, he now fears that he has misunderstood everything.
Themes
Perception vs. Reality 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 urges him not to, he takes a running start and slams his body into the board, cracking it. The boys pull the board away from the window and climb into the building.
The struggle to get into the building is unglamorous and frustrating, but it is ultimately successful. The mechanics of this search, like the emotions, have become messier as they have become more important.
Themes
Authenticity and Artificiality Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The room inside is filled with empty shelves, and the floor is littered with torn-off pages from old day-by-day calendars. The boys find a tunnel cut into a wall, with the words “Troll 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 souvenir store. They crawl through a third hole and find an out-of-use office. On every desk is a calendar turned to February 1986.
Moving through the Troll Holes, the boys encounter the detritus of peoples’ past lives: things they saw and used every day but will never use again. The human activity that once filled the building and has now come to a permanent stop is, like Grovepoint Acres, a figure of the many things that people uproot and abandon as they go through their lives.
Themes
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, Quentin can make out faint red graffiti. Radar drops the small flashlight they have been using, and the indirect light illuminates the graffitied letters clearly. They read, in what Quentin recognizes as Margo’s handwriting, the words: “YOU WILL GO TO THE PAPER TOWNS AND YOU WILL NEVER COME BACK.” Ben panics and urges his friends to get out of the building. All three boys hurry back through the Troll Holes.
Margo’s cryptic message represents a union of the many memories, assumptions, and fears about her that Quentin has cultivated. The message may be a way of urging herself to escape Orlando before she becomes trapped; it may be a farewell, confirming that she will “never come back”; or it may be a warning to Quentin, pushing him to save himself from their paper town just as Margo has saved herself.
Themes
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Human Connection Theme Icon
Get the entire Paper Towns LitChart as a printable PDF.
Paper towns.pdf.medium