May 28, 2015
Symbolism in Paper Towns John Green has been famous for his outstanding symbols and themes throughout his books. Paper Towns is one of his most popular books and can be depicted by 2 major themes, obsession and insanity or heroic and human and the loneliness of the search along with 2 major symbols, paper towns and moby dick. One of the main characters Quentin, also known as “Q” is searching for the second main character Margo tirelessly and alone, even after people have told him to give up. It is on the borderline of obsession, where he skips prom, graduation, and spends all his time on trying to find another clue to where Margo might be. He can be easily compared to Captain
Ahab, a man who wanted nothing more than killing a single white whale. Quentin’s teacher says, “Ahab is a fool for being obsessed. But you could also argue that there is something tragically heroic about fighting this battle he is doomed to lose” (159). This instantly relates back to Q’s search for Margo. One must wonder if his obsession in trying to find Margo is completely foolish, or it is a tragically heroic act. On one side, Q’s obsession is foolish because of several facts: First Margo is someone Q has only talked to that one night since they were young, and Second Q has no real proof that Margo wants him to find her. But on the other hand, Q’s act of selflessness, in attempts to find Margo and help her is someone heroic. Quentin’s teacher further goes on to ask, “Is Ahab’s hope a kind of insanity, or is it the very definition of humanness?” (159). It is hard to say whether Q is insane or just human because of the circumstances given in this story. It shows that Q is a very loyal person, and obviously in love with Margo, making him nothing different from normal people. But the depth of his searches, the depth of his attempts to find Margo is borderline insane. He risks getting in trouble with his parents and even skips graduation in an attempt to meet up with Margo, who he understands will not come back home to him. So his foolish attempts at finding but never getting his love is shown as insane. But it can be argued that this is all part of being a simple human. The desire to do something people want, the desire to reach out for their friends and family, is in almost everyone, programmed to help our actions and make our decisions. In the end, it is never clear whether Q was just a foolish boy or a tragic hero, but he finds Margo and is happy with his decision.
Throughout the story, Quentin is alone in searching for Margo and looking for clues to her disappearance. He firmly believes that he can find Margo though, and continuously looks for her without stopping, almost to the point of obsession. People such as the detective just
simply say, "Let me give you some advice: let her come home. I mean, at some point, you gotta stop looking at the sky, or one of these days you'll look back down and see that you floated away, too" (Green 151). Thus, Quentin is left alone to connect the clues that Margo has left behind, or at least the clues he believe she left behind. He tirelessly drives around, looking for places Margo might have gone, hoping the next one would be where she was hiding. During this entire time, he does not feel sad that he is alone, but also attempts to bring in others into his search. His 2 main friends, Ben and Radar however, do not care as much as
Quentin does in searching for Margo.
! Though near the end of the story, Ben, Radar and Lacey come along with Quentin in search for Margo at Agloe, it is implied throughout the story that they are only coming for the excitement and the adventure of the search, not for the sake of finding Margo. Q even notices that, “Ben only wanted to talk about Margo when it involved an adventure that appealed to him, that he thought there was something wrong with me for focusing on her over my friends,…