Analysis Of Hazel’s Character Development In The Fault In Our Stars By John Green
In writing, individual characters are often influenced by the conflicts they face. In fact, the characters’ entire personalities can develop through their experiences. In the novel The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, the main character, Hazel Lancaster, develops through the ways she faces conflict. The conflicts that shape Hazel’s identity are her physical condition, the prospect of her own demise, and the death of her boyfriend, Augustus.
A person’s physical condition, especially if it is long term, can impact the person’s character development. Hazel is “diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer” with metastasis in her lungs. Cancer has always been a huge part of Hazel’s life. She faces this conflict in the way she sees it, that “cancer kids are essentially side effects of the relentless mutation that made the diversity of life on Earth possible”. As a “cancer kid,” Hazel does not find herself of much importance and therefore has no ambition for the greatness that so many people are hungry for. Also, her cancer makes it so that “any attempts to feign social interactions were just depressing because it was so glaringly obvious that everyone she spoke to for the rest of her life would feel awkward and self-conscious around her…”. Hazel’s difficulty in creating any sort of social life makes her lead a rather reclusive life. Thus, this major conflict in Hazel’s life, cancer, is causing her to develop a self-contained character.
All things, whether living or nonliving, are impermanent. No one knows for sure when they will die, but Hazel knows that she will die earlier in her life than most people because of her cancer. Hazel knows that her time on Earth is likely to be short and acts thereupon. To her parents, she says, “‘I’m a grenade… I just want to stay away from people and read books and think and be with you guys because there’s nothing I can do about hurting you; you’re too invested, so just please let me do that, okay? I’m not depressed. I don’t need to get out more. And I can’t be a regular teenager, because I’m a grenade.’” Hazel is referring to her possible premature death as an explosion, in the sense that she is metaphorically a grenade. The “explosion” would harm everyone she loves, which is why she develops a reclusive character, refusing to leave the lonely comforts of her home. Hazel mentions that “‘I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?’”. This is her selfless reason for not wishing to go out and make friends. Her entire character is based around this sort of selflessness; knowing and accepting that she can never be anything more than a “side effect.” Therefore, Hazel’s character develops through the anticipation of her death.
Unexpectedly, it is not Hazel who dies, but her new boyfriend, Augustus. This is yet another conflict in Hazel’s life. After Augustus reports that he has had a recurrence of his osteosarcoma, Hazel realizes that, between them, he is the grenade, not Hazel. But, unlike Hazel, Augustus doesn’t care about minimizing the casualties, and Hazel changes to realize that “… it was sure a privilege to love him…”, thus realizing that death does not end relationships; it ends only the physical. To this idea, Hazel’s dad says, “‘Gives you an idea how I feel about you.’” Through Augustus and his death, Hazel learns that the ones she loves feel the same way about her that she feels about Augustus. Even though she was a casualty of his explosion, she did not turn away to save herself. Instead, she cherished her time with him. This causes Hazel to realize that she should not push people away, for it is their choice to love and cherish her through life and death. Thus, Augustus’s death helps Hazel’s character develop.
Hazel’s physical condition, the prospect of her demise, and the death of her boyfriend, Augustus, are the conflicts that shape Hazel’s identity. In writing, individual characters’ entire personalities can develop through their experiences. Not just in writing, but also in real life are people shaped by their obstacles. A person should not fear conflict but welcome it, for it is conflicts that have made people who they are today.
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