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Quentin, known to his friends as “Q,” is what one might call a pretty normal kid. He’s smart and diligent about his work, and he does well in school. Quentin really likes routines. He always notes the exact time of events: it’s not 6:30, but 6:32. Before he started his wild chase after Margo, he barely, if ever, broke the rules in his life. He had perfect attendance in school before he plays hooky to travel around Central Florida in search of Margo. Quentin often operates slightly on the periphery of people’s lives. His best friends are all very serious about band, but Quentin describes himself as having “the kind of tone deafness that is generally associated with actual deafness,” so he just hangs out with all the band kids but doesn’t take part. Quentin also has no desire to go to the prom, even though all his friends want to go. Quentin is more comfortable with being absorbed in other people’s drama, rather than his own. Even Quentin’s relationship to his car is indicative of how he tends to live life on the periphery, hovering between dependence and independenc:. Quentin doesn’t have his own car for most of the novel. Instead, he has his own keys to his mom’s minivan, so he can use the car when she’s not using it.
But as Quentin becomes more and more obsessed with Margo, he begins to grow beyond his routine-based life, and he becomes more daring and assertive. When he was little, Quentin was afraid to stand up for himself. But When Jase and Chuck take Margo’s absence from school as an opportunity to wreak havoc on the freshmen, Quentin musters the courage and self-confidence that Margo drew out of him on their adventure through Orlando, and he stands up successfully to the bullies. Through his fascination with Margo, Quentin gains confidence and learns how to take more risks in his life.