Editor's Choice

What is the setting of Paper Towns?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The majority of the novel Paper Towns is set in Orlando, Florida, and the surrounding areas of Central Florida. Specifically, the main characters of the novel live in a fictional subdivision, Jefferson Park, in the metropolitan area of Orlando, Florida. The setting of the novel is an important component that emphasizes the experience of the teens who search for a more meaningful existence outside of the cookie-cutter suburban life and tourist trap hell that is a defining characteristic of Central Florida. Margo, in particular, searches for a life less like the "paper town" of Jefferson Park. In her quest for excitement and meaning, she runs away to New York, with her loyal friend Quentin following her trail in hopes of finding her.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Paper Towns takes place in present-day Florida. More specifically, the majority of the book is set in a massive subdivision called Jefferson Park. Jefferson Park is a fictional subdivision, but the book places this fictional subdivision in the suburbs of Orlando, Florida. The setting eventually transitions to the state of New York. Quentin, Radar, Ben, and Lacey skip their high school graduation in order to drive to Agloe, New York. They hope to find their friend Margo there. Agloe is also a fictitious location; however, it is even more fictitious than Jefferson Park because Agloe only exists on maps created by the Esso company. It was an intentional copyright trap that they put on their maps. It is quite literally a "paper town." The group does find Margo, and she is none too happy that they have found her.

Agloe, New York, is a fictitious village created by the Esso company in the early 1930s and inserted into tourist maps as a copyright trap, or paper town.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

John Green's young adult novel Paper Towns is the story of two teens, Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Speigelman. Quentin and Margo are both seniors in high school who are connected by an early experience, finding a dead man in a park.

The setting of this story is in Orlando, Florida. Much of the first portion of the novel takes place in Quentin's car because Margo asks him to drive her around the town to seek revenge against her friends. The two go to her friends' homes and eventually break into Sea World.

After Margo disappears, Quentin follows clues she left behind. These clues lead him to an old minimall that has been abandoned and trashed. Here Quentin finds more clues left behind by Margo, she describes some suburban developments which she calls "paper towns". Quentin follows these clues to Central Florida in hopes of finding Margo.

Eventually, Quentin finds Margo in Algoe, New York.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The story is set mainly in modern-day Orlando, Florida, though Quentin does travel outside of that area. This setting is crucial to the story.

Consider the first section of the book, when Margo whisks Quentin off on their night of adventures. They visit specific stores that central Florida is known for, like Publix, as well as even more recognizable places, like Sea World. The downtown area of Orlando that Quentin describes as abandoned at night contrasts meaningfully with Margo's dreams of the vibrant New York, and the touristy nonsense that peppers International Drive plays a role in both Quentin's and Margo's sense of disillusionment with the world. Quentin's "pseudovisions" (subdivisions that were planned but never built) play a central role in the plot, also, and of course these are a real feature of modern-day Orlando.

Consider the weather imposed by the central Floridian setting, also: Quentin deals with constant humidity, intermittent rain, and predictable heat, all of which add to the tension he feels as he struggles on his search for Margo.

Margo and Quentin's immediate neighborhood, too, plays a role in the story: we know that they belong to a pleasant, safe, middle-class community, which makes their discovery of the man who committed suicide in the park all the more startling.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial