Topic: The Fault In Our Stars
Hazle is a cancer survivor who her mom thinks she is depressed. Hazle's mom is taking her to a support group of all cancer survivors.
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Hazle is a cancer survivor who her mom thinks she is depressed. Hazle's mom is taking her to a support group of all cancer survivors.
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After a few weeks, Hazel attends a meeting where she's surprised by the presence of a new and beautiful boy who stares directly at her. His name is Augustus Waters, and he's attending the meeting to support Isaac, who discovered he will soon lose his second eye to cancer. Augustus is a survivor of osteosarcoma.
Augustus invited Hazel to come over. Hazel came over and when Augustus shows Hazel his basement bedroom, which is packed with basketball trophies. He tells her how one day while shooting free throws, he had a sort of existential epiphany. Suddenly the nature of throwing a spherical ball through a raised toroidal hoop seemed absurd. The epiphany came the weekend before his amputation. Hazel is in awe of a boy who once took existential free throws.
Hazel and Augustus agree to read one another’s favorite books. Augustus lends Hazel a copy of The Price of Dawn, a book based on his favorite video game. Hazel describes her strong feelings for An Imperial Affliction. Augustus drives Hazel home after the movie, and she agrees to call him once she’s finished his book.
Hazel goes to the mall. While reading, Hazel is approached by a young child who asks about the tube in her nose. Hazel explains it's called a cannula. It connects to the oxygen tank she has to carry with her and it helps her breathe. She allows the child to try it on. Soon the child’s mother appears and apologetically takes the child away. Hazel reflects on the natural innocence of the child, contrasting the normalcy of their short interaction with her strained time with Kaitlyn.
Setting the book aside, Hazel calls Augustus, who is busy consoling the recently dumped Isaac. Augustus invites Hazel over, and she arrives to find the boys playing video games. Isaac is distraught. Quoting An Imperial Affliction, Augustus points out that “pain demands to be felt.” When Isaac’s carelessness gets the boys flanked in the video game, Augustus heroically sacrifices himself by jumping on an enemy grenade, in a futile effort to save a group of children. The screen reads mission failed, but Augustus contends otherwise, noting the children were spared. Hazel, however, points out that all salvation is temporary. Suddenly Isaac snaps and attacks the pillows. Augustus points out that pillows, unlike basketball trophies, are unbreakable and coaxes Isaac into smashing all the trophies.
Later, Hazel spends hours formulating the perfect email to Van Houten. Finally, she strikes out a list of questions all pertaining to his novel's lack of resolution. What is the fate of Sisyphus the Hamster? Does Anna’s mother remarry? Is the Dutch Tulip Man actually a con man? Email sent, Hazel calls Augustus and reads him “A Certain Slant of Light,” the Emily Dickinson poem that An Imperial Affliction derives its title from. They also discuss Augustus’s past relationship with a girl named Caroline who died from cancer. At the end of their conversation, Hazel thinks of how speaking on the phone with Augustus is like being in an invisible “third space” that only they occupy.
The next morning Hazel receives a response from Van Houten. He states he cannot answer any of Hazel’s questions for fear that she might twist those answers into a sequel. However, he extends an invitation: They can discuss the novel in person if Hazel ever finds herself in Amsterdam. Hazel is elated by the offer but quickly determines a trip to Amsterdam would be financially unfeasible. She shares the news with Augustus, who asks if she's used her wish from The Genie Foundation, an organization that grants sick kids one wish. Unfortunately Hazel spent her wish on a cliche trip to Disney World when she was first diagnosed. A few days later Augustus plans a surprise Dutch themed-date at the Funky Bones sculpture park. He shocks Hazel with the news that he never used his wish, and The Genie Foundation has agreed to fly them to Amsterdam.
Hazel's parents call her down to dinner. She's being very sarcastic and cold as they talk, and when her mother asks what's wrong, Hazel says she's a “grenade.” At some point, she's going to explode and injure everyone near her. She goes to her room to read and can hear her parents talking about her. She understands suddenly that she tensed up with Augustus because she knows being with him will eventually hurt him. She texts him to tell him that she can't kiss him because it makes her think of the pain she'll cause him. He replies that he understands but also flirts with her, to which she simply responds “Sorry.” Eventually her mother enters her room and tells her she's not a grenade to them. She brings them much more joy than sorrow. Just after four in the morning, Hazel wakes up with a terrible pain in her head.
A meeting convenes of numerous medical specialists familiar with Hazel’s case. When one doctor mentions that Hazel is not a viable candidate for lung transplant her father breaks down crying. It reminds Hazel of the time she was near death and overheard her sobbing mother say she wouldn't be a “mom anymore.” As the meeting progresses the general consensus is to stick with the Phalanxifor regiment while monitoring the build up of lung fluid more vigorously. Finally the cancer team deems it unwise for Hazel to risk international travel.
Hazel calls Augustus to inform him she cannot travel to Amsterdam. He cracks a few charming jokes, putting Hazel more at ease. They discuss the brilliance of Van Houten’s calling time a “slut,” and Hazel likes being in the “third space” she's in when she and Augustus talk on the phone.
The following day Hazel is feeling depressed. She tells Augustus she's upset because she has to miss out on Amsterdam, and because the sky is sad and because there's an old swing set in her yard that her father built for her. Augustus comes over, and they sit in the backyard. He says it's the sad-looking swing set causing most of Hazel's crying. Together they post an ad online for the “Desperately Lonely Swing Set,” and soon someone emails to get it.
While Augustus reads An Imperial Affliction aloud to Hazel she realizes she's fallen in love with him. He gives her a friendly peck on the cheek. The next morning Hazel is shocked by an email from Lidewij. The email states all the preparations for Hazel’s trip to Amsterdam have been made. Confused, Hazel looks to her mother, who ecstatically reveals that Dr. Maria has reconsidered, and now insists upon Hazel living her life and traveling to Amsterdam. Hazel texts Augustus to let him know the trip is back on.
Prior to departing for Amsterdam, Hazel attends a Support Group meeting. The meeting is rather contentious. Hazel becomes frustrated by the abundance of cliches about the strength of cancer victims. When a girl named Lida says she admires Hazel's strength, Hazel snidely says she would trade her strength for Lida's remission. She immediately regrets the comment. After the meeting Isaac invites Hazel over to play a blind-friendly version of The Price of Dawn. While playing, the two discuss Augustus's somewhat annoying heroic and suicidal video game habits. They laughingly agree that he is “too enamored with metaphor.” Isaac asks why Hazel hasn't hooked up with Augustus. He thinks she's afraid of Augustus pulling a Monica on her. Hazel thinks to herself that the opposite is true: she's afraid of dying and leaving Augustus.
On the morning of her departure for Amsterdam Hazel wonders why certain foods, like scrambled eggs, have been labeled breakfast foods. Hazel and her mother go to Augustus's, and as they approach his door they hear crying and shouting. They turn back to the car, and minutes later Augustus emerges from his house, seemingly unaffected. At the airport Hazel must disengage her oxygen tank in order to pass through security. She describes feeling a certain freedom being without it momentarily. At the flight gate Augustus says he's hungry and leaves to get breakfast, but it's a long time before he returns. He says the line was long, and they talk about certain foods being stuck in the category of breakfast foods. Eventually Augustus admits the food line wasn't long. He didn't want to sit in the gate area with all the people there staring at them. It makes him extremely angry, and he doesn't want to feel angry today.
On the plane, Hazel is astonished to learn that Augustus has never flown. He's afraid at first but fascinated as they takeoff. Hazel feels happy to see the excitably innocent Gus emerge from the “Grand Gesture Metaphorically Inclined Augustus.” Looking out at the sky from the plane window, Augustus quotes from An Imperial Affliction: “The risen sun too bright in her losing eyes.”
During the flight, Hazel and Augustus watch the movie “300.” The movie is too violent for Hazel’s liking, though she revels in Augustus’s enjoyment of it. Afterward, the two discuss the total number of living people versus the total number of dead in the history of mankind. Augustus has actually researched it and says there are about fourteen dead people for every person that is currently living. Augustus asks Hazel to read aloud from Ginsburg’s Howl, which she's reading for class, but she chooses to recite a poem from memory instead. When she finishes, Augustus tells Hazel he loves her. He says he knows oblivion is inevitable, and he knows the sun will one day swallow the earth, and he loves her.
The trio arrives in Amsterdam and takes a cab to the Hotel Filosoof. Each of the hotel's rooms is named after a philosopher. Hazel and her mother stay in the Kierkegaard room while Augustus stays in the Heidegger room. After waking from a long nap Hazel is delighted to find that Lidewij has made reservations for her and Augustus at a restaurant called Oranjee. Hazel puts on her best summer dress and Augustus his most handsome suit. They take the tram to the restaurant admiring the scenic canals, boats, and old architecture along the way.
When they arrive at the restaurant they are ushered to a table outside overlooking the canal. The waiter brings them champagne on the house. The meal is like nothing either has ever experienced, each course more wonderful than the last. At Augustus’s request, Hazel recites the final lines of the “Prufrock” poem she recited part of on the plane. A woman on a passing boat raises her glass to them and shouts something in Dutch. When Augustus yells back that they don't understand, someone else offers a translation: “The beautiful couple is beautiful.” Augustus reveals that the suit he is wearing was originally intended for his funeral. He asks Hazel if she believes in an afterlife. She says “No” but makes it clear she's not totally certain. Augustus says he does. Augustus cites the same line he did on the airplane from An Imperial Affliction and explains his belief in God through it. He says he fears not having a meaningful life and doing something extraordinary, to which Hazel responds with annoyance that it's unfair of him to say that the only meaningful lives are the ones where people live or die for some cause.
After dinner, as they walk Hazel asks Augustus what happened with Caroline, hoping to reassure herself that he'll be ok after she dies. Putting a cigarette in his mouth, he says people idealize kids with cancer, but the truth is that Caroline's brain cancer changed her personality. She died slowly over nearly a year, and she progressively became meaner toward Augustus. At the end, he couldn't tell where her real personality ended and the effect of cancer began. Hazel says she doesn't ever want to hurt him like that, but Augustus replies that it would be a privilege to have his heart broken by her.
It's finally the day they're scheduled to meet with Van Houten. Hazel decides to emulate the way Anna dresses in An Imperial Affliction. She wears jeans, Converse sneakers, and a t-shirt with a Rene Magritte print. Hazel and Augustus arrive at Van Houten's address, and when they ring a man with a bloated belly and sagging jowls opens the door. Hazel is shocked to learn that this is Van Houten. Van Houten is rude from the start. He initially denies having invited the young Americans, and pressed further he says his invitation was merely rhetorical. He didn't expect them to actually show up. Lidewij is present during the meeting and admits to having arranged everything. She thought it would be good for Van Houten. As all this goes on, Van Houten, who is incredibly self-important, keeps drinking scotch. Once he is good and drunk he asks crudely if Hazel intended to dress like Anna on purpose. Trying to steer the conversation in the right direction Hazel asks if Van Houten recalls her list of questions. Van Houten replies cryptically, citing the paradox of Zeno’s tortoise, and then inexplicably making a connection to Swedish hip-hop.
Eventually, Van Houten’s convoluted logic leads him to prolifically state “some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” He suggests this idea ought to answer Hazel’s childish questions. Deeply unsatisfied by Van Houten’s drunken gimmicks, Hazel presses further. Finally, Van Houten disavows his novel altogether. He ridicules Hazel’s belief that an author has special insight into his own characters. The chaotic scene comes to a halt when Van Houten accuses Hazel of being dependent on people's pity and a side effect of evolution. Hazel responds by smacking Van Houten’s scotch glass to the floor. As Van Houten demands to know why Hazel’s “silly questions” are so important, Augustus drags her outside. There he promises to write his own epilogue to An Imperial Affliction for Hazel. Lidewij, who has been polite through the encounter, resigns her position as Van Houten's assistant in disgust and follows the young couple outside. There she explains that Van Houten is the black sheep of a family whose wealth dates back to a 17th-century cocoa fortune. She says he wasn't always so cruel and alludes that circumstance made him a monster. Attempting to rectify the situation, Lidewij suggests they tour Anne Frank's house.
The tour involves climbing a number of steep staircases. Hazel struggles through it, determined not to give up, though she nearly blacks out climbing the final set of steps. At the top of the house, Hazel and Augustus wonder how Otto Frank, the family’s sole survivor, carried on after his family was gone. Hazel considers Otto Frank’s not being a father anymore. They enter the next room, where a video of Otto Frank speaking in English plays. Augustus says they should team up to hunt down evil-doers around the world and protect the weak. Tales of their exploits will live on as long as the human voice, he says. Hazel looks at him, thinking it's not an appropriate place to kiss but that even Anne Frank kissed someone there. Suddenly they're kissing as Otto Frank speaks behind them, and when Hazel opens her eyes she sees a crowd of people watching them. She worries they're angry, but the crowd breaks into applause and shouts of “Bravo!” After the tour, Hazel and Augustus return to Augustus's hotel room. Hazel tells him she loves him, and they make love for the first time. It's not exactly as Hazel expected, neither as painful or as ecstatic, and they fall asleep together afterward with Hazel's head resting on Augustus's chest.