The novel The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The novel, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is about two teenagers that fall in love, but unlike most other teenage romance stories, there’s an unresolvable twist: they both have cancer. The main characters, Augustus and Hazel, know from the start that if they are to pursue a relationship, it won’t last forever. Despite this known fact, they grow closer even though death can so instantly tear them apart. They live out their own infinity together and create a lot of memories along the way. But the novel doesn’t just span love; it spans the meaning of life, death, philosophy, acceptance, aspirations, friendship, and support. These attributions make the New York Times Bestseller, The Fault in Our Stars a classic piece and a valuable addition to teen literature.
The novel’s characters are unique because they’re anything but your typical teenagers. They’re smart, witty, they quote poetry, and speak philosophically. With his knack for adding humor to the lives of two love and cancer struck teenagers, John Green makes us laugh, cry, think, pray, and hope for the characters all at the same time. Green has received high praise for the novel, especially the outstanding characters. Despite rave reviews, a big criticism people have voiced towards the novel is that the characters don’t talk like teenagers of this day and age, to which John Green responded “I’m tired of adults telling teenagers that they aren’t smart, that they can’t read critically, that they aren’t thoughtful” (John Green: ‘I’m Tired of Adults Telling Teenagers That They Aren’t Smart’). The narrator is Hazel Grace Lancaster and she has strong opinions of what she should and shouldn’t do, which is what makes her irresistible to Augustus from the very beginning; she is very in tune with reality because she accepts her disease and doesn’t expect special treatment or pity, she actually hates it; she values the cold, hard truth above all else. This quote embodies her philosophy: “whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer.
Depression is a side effect of dying” (Green). Her tone is conversational and frank, Green flawlessly and freely captures a teenage girl’s inner monologue filled with dark and sometimes, self-deprecating humor. An example of this is when she thinks “the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You’re a woman. Now die” (Green). At this moment, Green makes Hazel so easy to relate to and he invokes multiple emotions, such as amusement and sadness at the same time. Augustus, on the other hand, is extremely different yet extremely similar to Hazel. Hot, charming, clever, and emotionally deep yet somewhat self-centered, Augustus connects with Hazel easily and falls for her when they meet at a cancer support group. Augustus is very humorous, philosophical, outspoken, and determined to get what he wants, which is to live a meaningful life and leave his mark on the world. Because of his quirky characteristics, Augustus is the embodiment of the perfect guy that all teenage girls are crazy for, the only drawback is that he has cancer, lost a leg because of it, and can fall into an abyss known as the unpredictable pendulum of time.
Green’s resonance of metaphors and symbolism convey the complex nature of time or lack of it. As Augustus says, “What a slut time is. She screws everybody.” Throughout most of the novel, Hazel and Augustus are obsessed with a book called An Imperial Affliction, which is about a girl named Ana, who also has cancer. They are so hung up on it and frustrated about it that they have read it numerous times, just to try and figure out the end. The book ends mid-sentence so Augustus and Hazel are dying to figure out what happened to the other characters. Hazel is especially fascinated with this book because it relates to herself. In her own life, she is Ana and she wants to know what will happen to the people around her after she dies, she wants to make sure they are all right and they go on and move on with their lives. Hazel’s cancer is rare and terminal so she knows the inevitable will happen and she wants to minimize the amount of people she hurts in the world because time is fleeting. She calls herself a grenade that can go off at any time and destroy the ones she is close to. Augustus, on the other hand, doesn’t agree with her reasoning when he says “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices” (Green). In another scene, Hazel and Augustus are playing a videogame and his character in the game jumps in front of her when a grenade is going to hit her and he sacrifices his character’s life to save hers; Green cleverly repeats the word “grenade” to delineate how Hazel thinks of herself and how Augustus doesn’t care because he loves her. According to the Oxford dictionary, “star crossed” is a phrase describing a pair of lovers whose relationship is often thwarted by outside forces.
Augustus and Hazel can also be related to other star crossed lovers and star crossed characters in history. The title itself alludes to the fact that the stars are working against their relationship. Romeo and Juliet is of the more famous examples of star crossed lovers for their families did not want them to unite. In the play Julius Caesar, Cassius says to Brutus “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” This quote means that fate does not play a role in what happened throughout the play, instead all the characters brought upon what happened themselves and the title of the novel alludes to this quote. However, The Fault In Our Stars is an antithesis of this quote because Hazel and Augustus are victim to the inevitable destiny that fate has in store for them and Green shows how they are helpless against it.
Life and death are recurring themes of the novel because Augustus is very concerned with the impact he will have on the world when he dies; he wants his life to be remembered by everyone and he wants his death to be famous and heroic and tragic. He wants everyone to come to his funeral and wants everyone to talk about him. Hazel, however, disagrees with his opinion. “Usually someone’s worth in your life cannot be measured on a scale. You cannot give it a number between one and ten.
Typically, you can only say it was mostly good, or mostly not. Then there are the Augustus Waters of the world, who so entirely change your life, their impact could never be erased.” This heartbreaking quote portrays the moment that Hazel is reflecting on how much Augustus meant to her and in her opinion, it didn’t matter if everyone remembers Augustus’s life or not because the ones that love him would. The Fault in Our Stars is truly a conglomerate of amazing dynamics. Green teaches us about everything that is beautiful about life, such as love and friendship, wishes and dreams. The novel touches and warms the heart and at other times, it chills the bone. Most of all, it makes you think about and reflect on your own memories and life experiences. The Fault in Our Stars helps us appreciate what we have and accept life for what it is without regrets.
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The novel, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is about two teenagers that fall in love, but unlike most other teenage romance stories, there’s an unresolvable twist: they […]