Quentin goes to the bathroom, where he discovers Lacey sitting in the bathtub. Lacey is angry because Becca told everyone at the party that Lacey has an STD. Quentin and Lacey start talking about Margo, and Lacey asks if Quentin can take her to the abandoned minimall. Lacey confesses that she thinks Margo is dead. At five in the morning, Quentin and Lacey go back upstairs. Ben drunkenly tells Lacey that he loves her and makes Radar and Quentin swear that they will be naked under their robes at graduation. Ben has super-glued a sword made out of beer cans to his hands, and even though they dismantle the sword, one can is left glued to his hand. Quentin drives Lacey and Ben home.

Analysis

After visiting the minimall, Quentin’s thoughts go into a dark place, as he fears that she might have committed suicide. Quentin’s speculation about Margo is often, however, more indicative of his own moods than of any particular piece of evidence. As Dr. Holden points out, one can read “Song of Myself” as a joyous, celebratory poem, but Quentin reads it as a poem about the end of life and suicide. When Quentin despairs over whether or not he’ll ever see Margo again, he is inclined to believe the worst about her whereabouts. Once Quentin begins to develop this theory of suicide, his confirmation bias makes it all too easy to believe that every new clue points towards this theory.

The nail polish on the desk is a vivid image of Margo’s recent presence in this space, just as vivid and huge as the spray-painted letter Ms she scrawled on the houses of her victims. To Quentin, the nail polish means that Margo was definitely in the space after the night of their adventure, meaning that he is on the right track and, hopefully, that she isn’t dead. The nail polish is also soothing for Quentin, since it serves as a sort of sign from beyond of Margo’s continued presence at the center of his world, even though she isn’t physically there. In many ways, Quentin is much more comfortable with the idea of Margo than with Margo herself.

For both Quentin and Ben, prom night represents the culmination of a certain kind of wish fulfillment. Quentin has at some level worshipped Margo since he was nine years old, and over the past several weeks, he has constructed his entire around figuring out where she is. On prom night, Quentin wants to have a special experience with the girl who he cares the most about at the school. In order to do that, he enters the world of Margo Roth Spiegelman, stepping into her shoes by spending the night at her secret haven. To become close to Margo, Quentin enters the space where he feels she was vulnerable, and where she immersed herself in her own world. Obsessively tracking Margo to the point of spending the night where she camped out might seem creepy, but Quentin is just as obsessed with his role in solving the mystery of Margo as he is with the idea of Margo herself. Quentin stays in the minimall to try and figure out what Margo was thinking and feeling so that he can figure out what her next move would have been. Quentin wants to be just like Margo not so that he can become Margo, but so that he can become her white knight and rescue her from herself.

Since Ben is a band geek and has been bullied throughout high school, prom is an important night for him because he wants to prove that he can be socially important . He wants to show that one doesn’t have to be a Jase or a Chuck to be powerful and desirable. Ben’s prom night ends up surpassing his wildest dreams. Not only does he go to prom with Lacey, one of the most popular girls in school, but he also ends up as master of the keg stand, besting the others and setting new records of debauchery.

However, for both Quentin and Ben, their fantasies prove to be hollow. Quentin doesn’t really get any closer to Margo through the experience, and Ben is so drunk that he barely remembers anything the next day. Like Don Quixote, who sees a monster where there is only a windmill, Ben sees a sword where there is only a string of beer cans, and plays into the hands of superficial popularity.