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A Closer Look Essay

1196 words - 5 pages

Elizabeth Gaskell once said, “How easy it is to judge rightly after one sees what evil comes from judging wrongly!” “Paper Towns” by John Green is a story about failing to see the truth in an individual. Quentin Jacobsen, the main character, sees his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman as beautiful and adventurous from afar, but when she enters his life, summoning him on a quest for revenge-he follows. After their night is complete and a new day begins, Quentin arrives at school to find the Margo is now gone, and a mystery. However, Quentin quickly discovers clues left behind for him, and the closer he comes to solving the mystery, the less he sees the Margo he imagined. The theme of the story is perception, and seeing people for who they really are. The theme is best expressed with Quentin Jacobsen’s obsession with Margo, but is also expressed in a comical way when Quentin and his friends look at various car drivers and make snap judgements about their lives. Finally, the perception Quentin has of one of his best friends, Ben, makes him come off as having a friendship by convenience and selfishness.
To begin, the theme of the story is best represented with Quentin’s obsession over Margo Roth Spiegelman. Quentin believes she is somewhat of a miracle in his life stating, “But my miracle was different. My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman” (Green 3). Quentin placed his next door neighbor on a pedestal by only exploring her outside beauty instead of figuring out who she truly was. Quentin spent literally nine years of his life obsessing over a girl for her looks, and never found out what lied within. Meanwhile, this treatment is given to Margo from almost everyone else in their subdivision of Orlando. Being placed on a pedestal has given Margo the belief that she isn’t real, and she says, “I was the flimsy-foldable person, not everyone else. People love the idea of a paper girl. They always have and the worse thing is that I loved it, too. I cultivated it, you know?” (Green 293) The title of the book, “Paper Towns” references a town that only exists on maps. For Margo, she ran away to a town named Agloe in New York, because she felt as if she could be a real person there. All the special treatment she received made her feel like she only existed in the minds of others. Hence, she ran away to a town that only existed on maps, so she could feel like a real girl, a paper cutout of a girl.
Furthermore, the theme of perception is magnified when Quentin and his friends are in a car playing a game they made up. The game is called “That guy is a gigolo,” and the object of the game is to look at a driver of a car and decide what their life is like. However, all this game did was show Quentin, Ben, Lacey, and Radar that they were projecting their views and ideas onto other people who they never met before. Radar even added that, “The thing about That Guy is a...

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