Margo Roth Spiegelman is, in many ways, the quintessential cool girl. She bends and breaks the rules without getting caught, and she goes on wild adventures. Quentin often refers to Margo by her full name, which adds to her persona and to her untouchable mystique throughout the novel. Margo actively cultivates this persona. She tells Quentin that, in many ways, she likes being a “paper girl,” or a girl who is what other people want to see her as, rather than trying to find out what she herself wants to be.
Since the novel is told from Quentin’s perspective, and since Quentin has idolized Margo for his entire life, it can be difficult for the reader to separate Quentin’s fantasy of Margo from what she is actually like as a person. For example, Quentin thinks that Margo has left him a whole trail of incredibly elaborate clues so that he can find her. However, it turns out that Margo might not have deliberately planted most of that trail of clues. She left Quentin a few deliberate clues, but Quentin might be attributing a more elaborate scheme to her than she had actually planned out. In other words, Margo left some clues for Quentin, but he also found information on his own that Margo might not have intended for him to find.
Some critics have identified Margo Roth Spiegelman as a “manic pixie dream girl” character. The manic pixie dream girl is a type of stock character, usually in films, that is available, desirable, eccentric, and girlish, whom the male protagonist, typically a young, brooding, awkward type of guy, worships. Often, manic pixie dream girls are not fully fleshed-out characters because the reader only gets a very warped image of the woman from the perspective of the smitten male protagonist. The ending of the novel certainly suggests that Quentin continues to see Margo through rose-colored glasses. When Lacey, Ben, Radar, and Quentin show up where Margo has been hiding, Margo is cold and nasty to them. The other three friends don’t put up with her bratty behavior. However, when Quentin is alone with Margo, they launch into a deep, soulful conversation that culminates in lying next to each other in the grass and talking about poetry. Margo seems to be too perfect, but that’s because Quentin, the narrator, can’t help but describe her as he sees her.