Friendships are the central relationships in Paper Towns, and are often more intimate than either family relationships or romantic ones. However, both Quentin and Margo fail to appreciate their friends, and both are forced to consider the people they have taken for granted in a new light. Before leaving Orlando, Margo cuts ties with three of her closest friends. This includes Lacey, whom Margo dismisses as spiteful and disloyal. However, Lacey proves herself to be both a good-hearted person and genuinely invested in Margo, and when the two meet again at the end of the novel, Margo is forced to acknowledge her own self-centeredness in leaving her friend behind without a word.
The relationship between Margo and Lacey has parallels with Quentin’s relationship with Ben, who is eager to enjoy his final weeks of high school to the fullest and constantly urges Quentin to ease up on his investigation and devote more attention to his friends. Quentin finds the things that interest Ben to be both boring and unimportant, and he makes fun of Ben for devoting so much energy to prom and his girlfriend, but Ben proves his loyalty again and again by indulging Quentin’s obsession even when he finds it absurd. Though he is one of the least serious characters in the novel, Ben exemplifies the constancy and sincerity that Quentin and Margo believe are missing in the “paper people” around them. Radar encourages Quentin to be more forgiving of Ben’s shortcomings, and to remember the things he likes and appreciates about his friends before dismissing them for their flaws. Quentin put this advice into practice during the twenty-one hour road trip that he takes with Radar, Ben, and Lacey to find Margo, an experience that he realizes is richer because he shares it with people about whom he cares deeply. These developments are part of the novel’s larger ethical code, which holds that all people are complex and deserving of compassion, but learning to recognize the value of his friends is also a critical part of Quentin’s journey out of the narcissism of adolescence and into a more nuanced and adult relationship with the world around him.
Friendship Quotes in Paper Towns
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.
“I didn’t need you, you idiot. I picked you. And then you picked me back … And that’s like a promise. At least for tonight. In sickness and in health. In good times and in bad. For richer, for poorer. Till dawn do us part.”
“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.”
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.
“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.”