What are the conflicts in Paper Towns?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The central conflict of this novel is the journey that Quentin, the protagonist makes as he battles with his love and infatuation for Margo and comes to realise the difference between the Margo he loves and the real Margo who is actually shown to be a rather callous and unthinking individual, as shown by her night of pranks that she insists Quentin joins her on. In spite of Quentin's rather balanced life, apart from discovering a suicide victim with Margo, it is clear in the novel that Quentin's character is burdened by his youthful infatuation with Margo, and it is only when he embarks on his quest to "save" Margo that Quentin is forced to see that Margo is actually very different from how he imagined her to be:

The fundamental mistake I had always made—and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make—was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.

The conflict in this novel therefore is an internal one and centres on the perception of Quentin of his childhood love and the gap between appearances and reality. Thankfully, Quentin is able to see Margo for who she really is and therefore move on in life to a healthier position.


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