The Fault In Our Stars essay
“That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt.” (4. 10) Who among us hasn’t been plagued with a serious case of angst? For teenagers, it seems par for the course (all those raging hormones). But it’s especially true for the two main characters in John Green’s hilarious and heartbreaking cancer-kid novel, The Fault in Our Stars. Brought to us by a master of young adult literature, The Fault in Our Stars will have you laughing, weeping, and perhaps even depressed for a few days after you read it.
Usually someone’s worth in your life cannot be measure 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.
Hazel Grace is just a normal teenager who is bored with life and likes to quote philosophers (no big deal) when she meets Augustus, a grade A hottie. It would be your typical teenage-girl-meets-boy story if it weren’t for the particulars of how they meet: Hazel and Augustus first lay eyes on each other at a support group for kids with cancer.
This is a love story in the bleakest sense. Usually when teenagers fall for each other, it’s all exhilaration and excitement and promises of forever. But even though Hazel Grace and Augustus experience that kind of giddy obsession with each other, their relationship is, well, a little complicated by their medical statuses. You see, they live in an era where they’ve been able to slow the progress of their tumours, but not totally get rid of them. So for kids like Hazel Grace and Augustus, the future is one big question mark. More than anything, this book is about coming to terms with your own mortality. All the characters in the book handle it in different ways: there are glass-half-full support group kids who try to get in touch with their spirituality and inner strength; there are parents who try to keep their premature grief in check; there are people like Augustus who want to make a mark on the world; and there are people like Hazel Grace who just float along without making a fuss about dying or living either way. In the end, no way is right or wrong. And no way is easy
Hazel Grace Lancaster is at once a professional sick person. Her illness, an `incurable thyroid cancer which has since spread to her lungs, defines who she is. She despises the typical ‘cancer kid’ profile: “The stoic and determined cancer victim who heroically fights her cancer with inhuman strength and never complains or stop smiling even at the very end.” She finds the entire idea of “fighting” cancer ridiculous, since you really have no say in the outcome anyway, and she would rather sit at home reading or thinking or watching reruns of America’s Next Top Model than proving to the world that she is worthy of their honour. This is largely why Augustus finds her so intriguing. While the two are very similar (they share a love of the book An Imperial Affliction, their desire to find out what became of Sisyphus the Hamster, and irritation at the ghettoization of eggs), they have greatly differing opinions on a great many things. One of these is the need to have a life (or death) that means something; furthermore, the need to be remembered after you are gone. Most people want what Augustus wants: To be remembered widely and forever (though forever is an inaccurate concept). “I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward the consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it-or my observation of it-is temporary?” Then there is the much smaller group who are happy with going through life without doing anything extraordinary to warrant anyone’s praise or admiration. Hazel is part of this ever decreasing group, yet one of the many things that makes her so fantastic according to Augustus. Part of the reason Hazel feels this way is because she has seen more death than any girl of her age has a right to have seen. She has seen how many people are hurt by one person’s passing, and she merely wants to limit how many people she hurts when she is gone. She does this to the point of pushing Augustus away so he wouldn’t suffer from her eventual demise. Though quite noble, Augustus refuses to accept this. He believes that the majority of people would rather be blinded by the light when a star explodes than to have never seen it shine. Though she spends quite some time trying to keep herself secluded from everyone else, Augustus won’t back down. He does everything short of throwing rocks at her window to impress upon her that she is worth all the pain that might come from loving her. As he once said, “It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.” William Shakespeare
once said, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” This is to say that no blame can be given to our circumstances, that it is our own human weakness that decides our fate. This cannot, however, be said concerning Hazel Graze Lancaster. One cannot blame her for being made of cancer. And one cannot really be surprised that she wants to limit the amount of pain she causes by her death. “I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” That fault clearly lies in her stars. But you can decide what you do with your circumstances; including where you go, what you believe, and who you love. Hazel chose to be in love, if only for a short while. “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.” ~The Fault in our Stars
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