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Friday, June 4, 2010

June: PAPER TOWNS, People as Mirrors and Windows












John says, "Q's parents describe people as 'mirrors' and 'windows' (page 198). What does this mean? Can you relate either of these metaphors to anyone in your life?"

24 comments:

Mrs. DeRaps said...

This is one of my favorite books, ever. This totally made sense to me. I definitely think that some people are better at showing you who they want you to see and others are totally unique, not reflecting back anything at you. I guess that I tend to gravitate toward window people more than mirrors. I like being surprised and amazed by people. Great quote & question!

Hank and John said...

Also of note is that Margo Roth Spiegelman's last name *means* mirrormaker in German (like the guy in the old German villages who made the mirrors was the spiegelman).

-John

Abby said...

Oddly enough, I knew about Margo's last name and didn't make the connection. I apparently have the kind of logic that pertains only to the German's window artistry.
In any case, I'm a high school senior in a small town - every person I come across in my daily life is a window, transparent and easily visible. I've yet to meet a person of remote interest, and I graduate in two weeks. Conversely, the people I find myself spending the most time with are those that are more like incomplete puzzles open for the solving, that don't actually let anyone see who they really are.

christine.evans279 said...

@abby
I agree with what you said about the people you spend the most time with. I think they dont let anyone see who they really are because they are the type of people that are constantly changing and evolving, so even they dont know who they are at any one time.

sparklenight said...

Oh gosh I wrote a huge long comment and then Blogger ate it. Will try again.

To me, this reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13, about only really being able to see in a reflection while we're alive. And I feel like this ties in with what you say about imagining people complexly.

We have to go through life and can only experience the world through our own eyes and according to our thought processes and interpretations. And you can never escape this self, and while you are yourself, you can never truly see yourself.

Seeing the world from your perspective also makes it so difficult to imagine the world from the vantage point of another person. Often when we don't know people well, what we see of them is the facets of their personality they choose to project, which may be different to the ones we choose to perceive. And by interacting with other people, we soon find out which aspects of our selves are the most salient to other people; they're reflected back at us like a mirror.

And once you see yourself, you are better equipped to see other people. We're all here with the same materials just muddling along the best we can and doing things the way we think. And this might not be the same for everyone, so it's okay to do things differently from some people some of the time. Seeing other people as people like you provides the window into yourself.


Sorry if this was poorly articulated, but I hope it makes sense. This whole idea is something I've been thinking about since reading Paper Towns, and the whole idea has taught me so much about other people, and in turn, myself.

Little Willow said...

Some people inspire you to be more like them - you are inspired to take up their hobby or vocation, or you adopt their mannerisms or way of speaking, or you simply (but strongly) admire a trait of theirs, such as their courage or compassion.

Some people show you what you can do - that prior to meeting or seeing them, you hadn't thought that it was possible to be a dancer, or an artist, or a teacher, but now you see so many more possibilities ahead of you, and so much more potential in yourself and in others.

People can also show you what you don't want to be. You can realize, upon seeing or hearing someone else say or do something, that you act in a similar fashion and that's not becoming, that's not good, so you change your ways.

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

Holly said...

I totally noticed what Margo's last name meant and I felt all smart and none of my book blogger friends picked up the connection, so it wasn't that cool.

Melissa Walker said...

I didn't know that about Margo's last name. Doh! But I love the idea of seeing people this way. Can you choose to be a window or a mirror? Sometimes windows reflect back at you like a mirror. I think the people I know have a little of both things in them.

Angela R. said...

...and margo at the window, in the window.. plus, doesn't Q's search for margo sort of "mirror" his search for self? i love how literature has so many levels.

HildeRose said...

I think what sparklenight said makes a lot of sense- we only perceive the world as we perceive it, not as it actually is. Like how we don't know if our "red" looks like somebody else's "blue," we just assume that it's all the same.

When you get close to someone, you sometimes almost kind of see the way that they see the world. And each person's perception is like an entirely new universe, so getting to know a person is really getting to know a universe.

Alternately, you can do something that I think Q does in Paper Towns- when he obsessively searches for Margo, untangling every aspect of "her" world, he's really only seeing himself. That's why he was so disappointed when he actually found her- he realized he hadn't been searching for Margo, he'd been searching for this projected reflection of himself. Maybe that's why she's a spiegelman and not a... windowman.

Joe said...

Windowman would be 'Fenstermann' in German :)

Lauurreen said...

I finished this book in three days, I just could not put it down. One of my favourite books ever. :)
Seeing others as mirrors can be a reflection on yourself, seeing your qualities in others and their qualities in you. People being like mirrors kind of makes it seem like we aren't all too dissimilar, that human beings have similar threads running through them.
People as windows is something that comes up a lot in my English lit class, and it seems to me that seeing people as windows is almost like, a lot of the time, you can see clearly through a window, but, the difference is, your perspective of what you see through that window may be very different to someone else's perspective. You can see through a window, but you can only see. You cannot fully understand everything that the image behind the window displays to you, and that is kind of how we all see each other. We look at other people's images, we learn about them and who they are, but we don't always see them clearly.
I don't know, I'm rambling. I hope I don't sound stupid.

elfarmy17 said...

This is my favorite book ever, with the exception of Harry Potter, which gets the top spot by default just because it has been such a big part of my life.
I think other people are very mirror-y. I met someone this year who (I think) is very much like myself, so I've been able to learn loads of stuff about how I may or may not appear to others based on him.
I've several other examples, but that's the main one.

Caroline said...

I think it's sort of like, mirror people let you see yourself and your impact on others. Mirrors can also let you see what's behind you, or the past. People with qualities that you used to have could show you what you used to be like. Window people are people that you want to be like...they show you what you can be in the future.
And also, along with elfarmy17, I just wanted to let you know that Paper Towns is my favorite book besides Harry Potter :)

Ellie said...

Margo is a mirror (like her last name). Reflected in her is the image of all the things you want to be and want her to be. You see her as a mirror, as a paper girl. She is more than that. She is a complex person with emotions that are hard to understand and experiences most people can't imagine going through. Near the end of paper towns, Q starts to see her as who she is, in all of her flaws and her impoerfections, she is better than anything the mirror had shown in teh first place. Your own image of people is never the same as their image of themselves. That image is even farther away fro who they really are. At the end, Margo is a window to Q. A window into understnading, clarity, and love. Radar showed the same idea of mirrors and windows. Though he encouraged accepting friend's flaws and seeing through their windows, like Q's chronic tardiness, he admitted to liking the clues Margo left behind then the girl she really was. She was a mirror to him still, because he didn't know her well enough to no longer see his own interests of omnictionary and mysterys in her. He couldn't see her a whole; as a window. I see anyone as mirrors. This shows my insecurities and my compretitivness. I see what I need to make myself more like, not for who they are. All the people you think you know you don't, you know their reputation and a small account of their actions and your own opinions reflected off their mirror. The only person I see as a window is my mom, for I know we are different. We still see right through each other anyway. What can I say, we live in a house made of glass windows. Don't throw any stones!

mark said...

well where to start

first I'm not a girl just a nerdfighter who likes john's books for their depth at revealing the invisible banners I put on the world to blur it down into something much more simple and comprehensible.

I truly think that through ones own imperfections one can better see others imperfections in a more human way rather than in a sub-human way.

my thoughts are that any instance of hate or even love usually stems from perceiving that you already can see through someone and know almost everything there is to know about them. like Q's parents with the population in the middle east.

everyone is a mirror but only through the cracks can one see the faint and brilliant flame that is the true self under the shiny hard finish but too many cracks and the flame is liable to burn up or blow out.

I think Paper Towns and Looking For Alaska go hand in hand with some of the same lessons and character flaws like when The Colonel and Pudge go on a mission to find out more about their friend Alaska. Pudge ultimately never sees Alaska fully at least not in the same way Q allows himself to see Margo; because Pudge still does not see his own faucets and that his selfishness is mostly justified amongst other things is the root of his blindsides.

so again I truly think that through ones own imperfections one can better see others imperfections in a more human way rather than in a sub-human way.

In the end that is more of what I'll take away from those two books.

-Mark M

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Great expression here! And guys are welcome. Especially Nerdfighters!

As I read the section, I looped back around to how I interpret others as a reflection of me. I have to use my own experiences to understand their actions. Novels allow us to garner more experiences to interpret more broadly.

And then I think how all of life is a journey to be able to look through the window at your own soul and discover it.

Dia Calhoun said...

I have friends who are windows. They give me another perspective and let me see life in fresh ways.

Malarie Piercy said...

i Just read this last night. This is basically one of the most profound and honest things i have ever read. John has this way of describing the way people are that i can relate to better than any other author i have read.

Trix4ever said...

I don't know if anyone is going to read this, but if I could get a answer that would be greatly appreciated.
When Q's father says that people "lack good mirrors" what does he mean with that?
Why would you want good mirrors? Wouldn't it be better if you saw all people as windows?
Any respond appreciated :)

yoginijhingan said...

I love the windows and mirror metaphors in this book. I had a lot to say about them. yoginijhingan.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/windows-and-mirrors/

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