Paper Towns and the Unrequited Complex

by Hannah Kay 3 years ago in literature

Quinton's Imaginary Margo

Paper Towns and the Unrequited Complex

My name is Hannah, and I am an English major, so be prepared for a really strange perspective.

Yesterday, as I sat among my fellow English majors in my Eighteenth-Century British Novel class with the Austrailian professor, a little part of me broke. Earlier that morning, I'd texted a friend of mine from high school - ya know, one of those coulda, shoulda, woulda if he liked me back kinda friends.

Senior year had been tough so far, and that morning I decided it would be better if I could see him. Probably not, but I wanted it nonetheless.

He responded that he was busy.

Class started.

The deadpan reaction reminded me of the end of the Paper Towns movie when Quinton literally drove from Florida to New York to find Margo, and she basically asked him why he was there.

Obviously, this is an extreme comparison. We're in college. We're busy. So, it isn't the same, but the way he said it... well, it made me think of Margo and Quinton.

Blood flooded to my cheeks, and tears sprung to my eyes. I just stared at this eighteenth-century British novel in my hands, and I hoped no one noticed that I was crying in the middle of a lecture about sentimentality.

Suddenly, I relived every moment in surround sound - we were on the yellow school bus, watching Monty Python even though we couldn't hear. My head on your shoulder, I was flying like that picture of us on the swing set at my mom's school when we were seventeen. He played the guitar, and I sat, trying not to watch him. His mom hugged me when I came in the door. She knew, and I knew, and we all knew, but I was watching him play Grand Theft Auto and making up a storyline. He laughed at me. That's not the point, he said.

No, I thought. The point is I love you.

But, like Quinton, I didn't.

The iconic line "what a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person" comes to mind.

I have always read John Green's Paper Towns as an anthem for Unrequited Love. My copy is tattered, highlighted with notes in the margins and a long broken spine because I think it is pure genius (but, in my opinion, that is the nature of John Green).

For me, this line is especially important - "what a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person."

I'll explain myself now: Quinton idealizes Margo. From a young age, Margo Roth Spiegelman was it for our boy Quinton. He fell in love with her, or as we realize through the novel, the idea of her. This quote refers to the way in which Quinton creates of Margo a fantasy. She is mysterious, and to Quinton, she becomes the thing that will fill the lack inside of him.

You know what I mean - We all lack something. This can be channeled into love, lust, fantasy, reality, art, music, knowledge... however you slice it, but Quinton finds his home in Margo.

He falls for her, and he falls hard for her.

He gazes at her.

He follows her, and he truly believes that she meant for him to find her.

But she didn't.

She made a plan, and she wanted to leave, and she is selfish.

But is it her fault that Quinton believed otherwise?

No. His fantasy of her, the imaginary world that he constructed of her, led him to find her in that paper town.

So, it's not her fault, and it isn't his either.

The Australian man ended class.

I staggered down the stairs and out into the sun.

NOTE: IF I weren't at college right now, separated from my lovely copy of Paper Towns, this post would be full of actual, physical, parenthetical documentation and quotes, BUT since the book and I aren't currently in the same county... this will have to do.

Hannah Kay
Hannah Kay
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Hannah Kay

I'm Hannah Kay, and I write. I'm a Senior English Major at Mississippi State University, and I've published a couple short novels with small, indie publishing companies. I love cats, reruns, and fall!

See all posts by Hannah Kay