Summary: Agloe

They drive around looking for Margo. They pass an old barn that might have been the Agloe General Store, and Margo’s car is parked out front. They go inside and see her hunched over a desk, writing. They approach her and call out her name. Margo is grimy, with chapped lips and dead eyes, and she stares at them. She tells them to give her five minutes, and returns to her writing.

After these five minutes, she closes the notebook and asks them what they’re all doing there. Margo makes fun of Lacey for being with Ben. Lacey, Ben, and Radar all stomp away, frustrated and annoyed. Quentin yells at Margo for being a brat, and Margo counters that they shouldn’t have come to search for her. She says that she didn’t want to be found. Quentin yells that she didn’t think about how her departure would affect the people she left behind.

Quentin asks why she left all those clues if she didn’t want them to find her. Instead of answering, Margo says that she didn’t know how else she could lead her own life without leaving suddenly. Their friends call to say that they’re staying in a nearby motel, and that they are going to leave the next morning with or without Quentin. Margo describes her living situation, and then tells Quentin she is leaving for New York City that day.

Margo explains that this all started with a detective novel that she wrote when she was ten. In the novel, the character named Margo had a crush on the character named Quentin, and she, Quentin, and a magical version of Myrna Mountweazel investigate the death of Robert Joyner. Ever since then, she’s been plotting various escapes from her life, one of which was the Mississippi trip. The previous year, she reread her old detective novel and started going to the minimall hideout to plot her final escape to Agloe. It was supposed to happen on graduation night, but when she found out about Jase cheating on her, she shifted the timeline back.

Margo says that she had always planned to involve Quentin in this plan, but that he had surprised her by being a three-dimensional person, not a “paper boy,” as she’d imagined him all these years. She tells him that she left him the Woody Guthrie poster and the Walt Whitman clue at the last minute because she didn’t want him to worry, and led him to the minimall so that he would go out of his comfort zone and explore. She tried to cover her tracks in the minimall so that Quentin wouldn’t read into it as much as he did.

Margo says that she’s always felt like a paper girl, which was why she was obsessed with going to Agloe, a paper town. Quentin tells her that he thought she was dead. Margo reads a passage from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which talks about contemplating suicide but being unable to do so. Margo says she feels that there are deep cracks inside her.

Margo calls her mom and her sister to tell them not to worry. Then, she and Quentin lie down in the grass and talk about the Walt Whitman poem. Margo says that she had an image of the fictional Quentin in her detective story as a loyal, attractive defender of justice, and on the night of their Orlando adventure, Quentin unexpectedly turned out to fulfill this fantasy. Quentin falls asleep. When he wakes, they dig a grave for Little Margo and Little Quentin and symbolically bury the past.

Margo and Quentin talk about how complicated life is and how they never really thought of Robert Joyner as a person just like them. Quentin uses metaphors like cracked vessels and broken strings to make sense of it all. Finally, Quentin kisses Margo, and she says that he can come to New York with her. Quentin says that he can’t go, because he has a whole life that he cannot leave behind. Margo drops her notebook in the grave, they say their goodbyes to it, and cover it with dirt. They carry all of Margo’s belongings from the Agloe General Store to her car.

Margo drives Quentin to the motel where their friends are staying, and they get out of the car to say goodbye. She promises to stay in touch. She hesitates before getting back in the car. They kiss again, and their foreheads touch as they stare into each other’s eyes.


Finding Margo in the fictitious town of Agloe proves to be almost miraculously easy, which says something about Margo and her plan. Even though only Margo knew the exact coordinates of her destination, Quentin and his friends have such little trouble pinpointing Margo once they arrive that it’s almost as if she wants to be found. Though she denies this, much of Margo’s disappearance seems less like a desire to truly get away and more of a cry for attention. Part of Margo’s purpose in the Orlando adventure in Part One is to create a bond between herself and Quentin, even if she doesn’t consciously realize it’s what she’s doing.

Margo and Quentin experience a deep connection when they are alone with each other, and are able to see each other fully. Margo is objectively rude to her friends when they approach her after driving nearly twenty-four hours nonstop to find her. Lacey, Ben, and Radar are disgusted with Margo’s behavior, but the text implies that Quentin understands that her attitude is a mask. Margo’s shell is a brittle defense mechanism. Underneath the paper rudeness is a real girl, and the girl is scared, anxious, and sad. Quentin stays with Margo when the others leave, and he talks to her knowing full well of her act. Rather than trying to blame her, or to convince her of what she should do next, Quentin lets Margo explain how she feels.

In this final scene, the reader finally sees the role that Quentin has played in Margo’s life. Most of the novel gives the reader a sense of who Margo is for Quentin, because he idolizes her and places her at the center of his universe. In Agloe, the reader learns that Margo’s imaginary version of Quentin fueled many of her stories about herself as a crime-solving superhero who would save the world. Margo constructed her initial Orlando adventure around seeking vengeance, but the underlying purpose was to realize her detective story about Quentin, even though she might not have been consciously aware of that at the time. Both Quentin and Margo have been the anchor in each other’s universes throughout the novel. Quentin provides the loyalty and consistency that Margo lacks in all the other elements of her life, and Margo provides the spontaneity and adventure that Quentin lacks in his.

Ultimately, however, Margo and Quentin go their separate ways. This is not a classically happy ending in that neither character suddenly changes his or her nature. They do not ride into the sunset or head to New York City together. Instead, Margo and Quentin are able to move forward into the futures that make the most sense for each of them. The novel’s final scene is certainly a wish fulfillment for Quentin, since he experiences the deep one-on-one connection with Margo that he has been seeking throughout the novel, but he doesn’t upend his entire life to stay with her. Through Margo, Quentin discovers the strength to let her go. Both characters say true to themselves: Margo knows that Quentin will always be loyal to her, even though he has to go away, and Quentin knows that even though he will always be smitten with Margo, he has deep roots and connections that he cannot overturn on a whim. Margo and Quentin help each other understand their natures and values, and guide each other into their respective paths.