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Paper Towns

Characters

Ben Starling

Characters Ben Starling

Ben has been Quentin’s best friend for many years. They were brought together by social circumstance, since they’re both nerdy outcasts at school, but they have a tight-knit friend circle. Ben is louder, more exuberant, and more outwardly anxious than Quentin, who doesn’t seem to care as much what people think about him or where they place him on the social totem pole.

Quentin and Ben argue when Quentin doesn’t think that Ben is appropriately concerned about Margo Roth Spiegelman. Ben’s role in the book is often to provide a counterbalance against Quentin’s fascination with Margo. Unlike Quentin, Ben is annoyed by Margo and sees her as a drama queen, rather than some kind of mystical goddess.

Ben is more emotional and impulsive than Quentin. He is also more hotheaded and excitable, and can have a temper, but his emotions flare up and down, and he doesn’t seem to hold lasting grudges. Ultimately, Ben is loyal to Quentin. He goes on the road trip to find Margo not because he’s terribly concerned with Margo, but because he wants to hang out with Quentin and because he wants to spend time with Lacey Pemberton, his love interest. Ben and Lacey’s relationship seems extremely unlikely at first, because they occupy opposite ends of the social hierarchy at school. But Ben and Lacey are both highly loyal people, and though they initially bond over concerns about Margo, Margo quickly becomes just a pretense, and they become much more interested in their own relationship than in the Margo saga.