Comparison Of The Novel And The Movie Adaptation Of 'Paper Towns' By John Green

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Paper towns is a 2015 American film portraying coming of age, based on the 2008 novel by John Green. His inspiration behind writing this book began with his fascination of Agloe, NY and was to explore how people idealize objects by their romantic attractiveness. The film is starring Nat Wolf (Quentin) and Cara Delevingne (Margo), who are perfect for the role.

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Paper towns has won a lot of audience mostly engaging young adults. The movie is corresponding with the book, however there are significant changes in the plot and characters. Overall the book is more negative and serious, while the movie is more optimistic and lighter.

The most significant change between the novel and the movie, is mentioning the fact that Margo might have committed suicide. After following her ambitious clues, and analysing the Walt Whitman poem, there is a slight fear that she might have killed herself. However, the last line in the poem reads “If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles”, which is a ray of hope for Quentin, indicating Margo might still be alive. Therefore, he continues his search for her in different pseudovisions. On the other hand, in the film the idea that Margo could have committed suicide is completely disregarded. Instead, they arrive straight to the minimal. Due to this, it is clear that the difference in the mood for the search for Margo as the book is more dramatic and pessimistic but, in the movie, this plot point is left out. Yet the book portrays a stronger sense of coming of age, as Quentin takes risks and continues to follow her clues, not knowing where they will lead.

Parents are a significant part of coming of age, as they provide psychological and moral growth to the protagonist. There is a scene in the novel where Quentin addresses his parents about his decision to skip graduation in order to track down Margo. This same scene in the film, is cut down to a mere phone conversation which is made when Quentin has already left for Margo. This does state the issue, but docent seem ‘true to life’. Considering this, it can be understood that including parents makes situations more realistic. Also in the film

The ending of Paper towns shows a drastic twist in Quentin’s character. In the novel, when Quentin finds Margo, she reacts quite coldly towards him. She tells him she didn’t want to be found, and that she knowingly cut ties with Orlando. He understands this, and how she was tired of being a “paper girl”, but it is hard for him to accept this uncertainty of separating with Margo. He realises he had let high school graduation, prom and his friendship go by, just because he was too preoccupied with Margo. Whereas in the movie this scene was displayed much more optimistically. Margo apologies to Quentin for trying to find her, but he declines her apology. And says that the journey of finding her, made him do some many things out his comfort zone, such as skipping school, going to his first party and the memorable road trip. This can be confirmed when he says “everyone was doing things for the last time, and I was doing them for the first”. All of these things make Quentin appreciate his friends, and understand that they have a limited time together. Coming of age is expressed in the film and novel as Quentin accepts that Margo and him have different ambitions and values. The difference is the film expresses it positively while the book more pessimistically.

16 December 2021

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