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The Fault in Our Stars Novel Study

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Scarlett Gordon

on 12 March 2014

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Transcript of The Fault in Our Stars Novel Study

The Fault in our stars
January 27 - About john green
John Green has dedicated his life to writing, and has succeeded, for he is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of his books, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. These outstanding compositions have been honored on various occasions, and some of his accolades include the Michael L. Printz Award in 2006, the Edgar Award in 2009, and twice being a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. His books have been published in more than a dozen languages, and are read by many across the globe. In 2007, he created a YouTube channel with his brother, Hank, and together they began videoblogging. These videos have attracted large amounts of people, and were later given the name of "nerdfighters." Together, they fought for intellectualism, and helped in making the world a better and safer place by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend against poverty and planting thousands of trees around the world. John and Hank's videos get hundreds of millions of views, and their channel is becoming more popular by the second. John Green is a remarkable author, and his fame as well as writing is continuing to grow.
January 27 - Before Reading
Before reading this novel, it is clear to me that Hazel is going through the tragic phases of cancer. Although there has been a medical revelation extending Hazel's life, death is still inevitable. It isn't until the handsome Augustus Waters comes along, providing a positive spirit and a life worth living. Hazel's world gets completely turned around when Augustus Waters is now part of it. I think the novel will take the reader through all of Hazel and Augustus' thrilling adventures, with nuances of love and tragedy in between. Hazel has worried that she will break his heart, knowing that her death is inescapable. Knowing John Green's writing style and his tendency to create unhappy endings, this leads me to believe that Augustus will die in the end because of a cancer related tragedy, being that the anticipation of Hazel's death is so immense.
January 27 - Chapter 1
Hazel Grace Lancaster is not your average 16-year-old girl. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and has malignant tumors in her lungs, restricting her from living a normal life. Cancer has impacted Hazel spiritually, emotionally and physically. It has completely changed her, and is what gave her her sarcastic humor and witty ways. Sarcasm is a way for Hazel to escape the tragedies that are occurring in her life and provides security and comfort when in such a vulnerable state. She fears her inevitable death that is to come, but it is oblivion in which she fears the most. Augustus Waters makes a statement during the Support Group, saying his biggest fear is oblivion, the fear of never knowing. With her mature wisdom, Hazel realistically responds to this statement, as she mentions how everyone is afraid of oblivion, but everyone is forced to accept the painful truth of it. There are many things before us that we never knew, and there will be many things to come that we will never know. Oblivion is sure to be everyone's biggest fear, it just depends on their ability to cope with not knowing. Hazel enlightens us about the truth of oblivion, and how everybody is frightened by the unknown, but it is a topic that is chosen to be ignored, for its inevitability unconsciously frightens us all.
My prediction for the novel based on the inside flap and Ms. Lindley's short description
January 29 - Response to quote
"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book" (p. 33)
The Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten is Hazel's favorite book, written by her most admirable author. It is Hazel's "Bible," with its words being what she praises and lives by to brighten her saddened spirit. When she reads this book, she is filled with this abnormality and amazement, that vanishes the dullness that is her life. She explains how some books can fill you with this passion that no other existing thing in this universe can fulfill. It might be a book that has the ability to lift your spirits in times of despair. Hazel is simply trying to say that there might be a book that you feel so personally connected to, that unless everyone reads this book, there is still that emptiness waiting to be filled. That is what The Imperial Affliction means to Hazel, for it brings her this eagerness that nothing else has the power to do so, until she meets Augustus Waters.
January 31 - Response #1
February 5 - Response to poem
John Green used the phrase "an imperial affliction" from a poem by Emily Dickinson as the title of Hazel's favorite book. In the first stanza of this poem, she mentions how there is this oppressing light on winter afternoons, and I believe that this light represents hope, and this hope disappears when it is consumed by the clouds. This oppression, however, is only found internally, for "we can find no scar." In the last stanza, she says "When it comes the landscape listens, shadows hold their breath; when it goes, 't is like the distance on the look of death." I believe the shadows represent death, and when they "hold their breath" they are allowing this light to come through. It isn't until the light vanishes that all hope is lost, and death is upon them. John Green chose to use this poem because although he just used the phrase "an imperial affliction," the entire poem is in relation to Hazel's story, for she must have this light to carry on. With Hazel knowing she is a grenade and could "explode at any moment," it is the light that lies within Augustus that allows her to persevere. The phrase "that oppresses like the weight of cathedral tunes" is a simile, comparing the light to cathedral tunes.

Personification: "the landscape listens" and "shadows hold their breath," making something inanimate express the qualities and characteristics of something that is living.

Friday January 31 - Response #2
February 5 - favorite quote from chapters 5 & 6
I believe in true love, and I also believe that Isaac's definition of true love is very accurate. True love is a promise, and it means to keep that promise no matter the circumstance. It means to love, care, and support each other unconditionally. True love is unbreakable, but in the context of the book, Monica was unable to cope with the challenges she might face with Isaac. They continued to say "always" to each other, to remind themselves that they will always be together. That was their promise to each other, and Monica completely overlooked it, and selfishly broke up with him, destroying their promise of true love.
"But you keep the promise anyway. That's what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway. Don't you believe in true love?" (p. 61)

"I finally understood what true love meant... love meant that you care for another person's happiness more than your own, no matter how painful the choices you face might be." ~Nicholas Sparks
February 10 - response #1
February 10 - response #2

Although our faults may be directly related to the decisions and aspects of ourselves, sometimes the problems in our lives are uncontrollable. This is a perfect concept for the title of TFIOS, for it is as if the faults in Hazel and Gus’ damaged lives have aligned even due to the inevitable and saddening situations the universe has presented them. John Green uses this metaphor to show that love demands to be felt even among the most hectic of stars.

This turning point is when Gus says that despite all forces against him, including Hazel, his love and fervor cannot be contained. It seems as if their relationship was inevitable from the start; it was destined to flourish (it is the perfect representation of what true love must be).

February 13 - Response
Response #1 - February 19
When Hazel and Augustus finally get to meet Peter Van Houten, I believe in a sense, their expectations were met just by meeting him, however, the expectations they had regarding An Imperial Affliction were given no attention whatsoever from the author himself. Peter Van Houten refuses to speak of anything that occurs after the novel ends, as well as the very specific questions that Hazel went in with. Although Peter's response is very blunt and inconsiderate, it is the realism that is within this response that truly brings light to Hazel. Instead of treating Augustus and Hazel like cancer patients, he treated them like ordinary people, which for Peter is in a very disrespectful manner. Both Hazel and Augustus were shocked by both Van Houten's appearance, as well as his comments. His alcoholism severely contributes to his vulgarity, and it saddens both the characters and the readers that his talent is being completely wasted among his alcohol. Peter Van Houten is the "douchiest douche" there is, however, as the book continues, the reader will realize that there is some depth and emotion within his soul. Peter Van Houten says that there shall be no life after a book, being the reason for Hazel's unanswered questions. Although John Green's mannerisms and personality differs immensely from that of Peter Van Houten, his beliefs such as that there shall be no life after a book ends is very similar to Peter. I am not very surprised that John Green put a little bit of himself in Van Houten's character because I feel that this benefits in expanding on the character, and might also help in creating this imagined personality that solely exists within the book.
February 20 - one word activty
Martyr: Hazel's parents are martyrs, ready to sacrifice their lives for the life of Hazel, disregarding the inability to do so.
Devolve: The devolving inevitably of Augustus' death brought anguish to Hazel's shattered heart.
Anomaly: Peter Van Houten is an anomaly, but his offensive comments, disliking of life, and lack of motivation still enlightens Hazel with the realism that he provides.
Gratuitous: Hazel looked at Augustus in a gratuitous manner, for she knows their love is undeniable, but refuses the likelihood of it.
Narcissist: Isaac is bothered by Augusutus' narcissism, for his eyes no longer have the powerful ability to notice Augustus' fascinating features, allowing his jealously to blossom into an uncontrollable rage.
1. The chapters in the novel are continually getting shorter to represent the small amount of time that Augustus has left. I also believe it builds up suspense for the inevitability of Augustus' death.
2. I believe within himself, Gus is remaining steady with his condition by trying to be as independent as possible such as wheeling his own wheelchair. Although he is creating this facade that he is capable of completing things on his own, I feel as though he, along with everyone else, knows that his death is inevitable. In simpler terms, he is trying to be independent, but knows in his heart that death is upon him.
3. “It’s hard as hell to hold on to your dignity when the risen sun is too bright in your losing eyes...” (p. 238) In relation to Augustus and his current condition, his independence is truly giving up on him, and his dignity is following right behind. He no longer has a mind for his own, for it is questionable on how much mind he actually has left. This quote means that it is "hard as hell" to hold on the last bit of yourself you have left, and you are losing your battle to the illness you has become you. Augustus was simply alive, but not living, and the sun was just too bright for his eyes.
February 24 - Responses
February 21 - Responses
"You used," he said, and then took a sharp breath, "to call me Augustus." (p. 240 - Chapter 17) This line truly broke my heart. There was once a Roman Emperor named Caesar Augustus. Because an emperor's qualities symbolize strength and power, that is exactly what the name Augustus meant to Hazel. It was a major transition in the book when Hazel begins to call him Gus, being that it is more of a little boy's name. It shows that she is now treating him like someone who is dying, unable to surpass the expectations of having the name Augustus.

"This is it. I can't even not smoke anymore." (p. 245 - Chapter 18) This was the first line in the book that brought me to tears. Prior to his diagnosis and struggles thereafter, Augustus enjoyed not smoking cigarettes, for the reason being that he is not giving this fatal object its fatal abilities. In chapter 18, Augustus travels to the gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes that he will not smoke, but he experiences some problems while on his quest such as an infected G-tube and constant vomiting. He simply traveled to the gas station, not to not smoke another pack, but to prove that he can still do something on his own, and be the independent person that he once was. Sadly, his point was proven in a negative way, being that all of his independence is now lost, and must accept the fact that he is dying.

"Seriously, don't even get me started on my hot bod. You don't want to see me naked, Dave. Seeing me naked actually took Hazel Grace's breath away," he said, nodding toward the oxygen tank. (p. 251 - Chapter 19) In the midst of all the heartbreak and illness that is occurring, John Green intelligently placed this humorous chapter in the book to lighten the readers' saddened spirits. This was the first line in a while that actually made me laugh. It was a very appreciated humor, and it seemed to bring confidence to the now hopeless Augustus.

I believe, in a sense, Hazel and Augustus do conform to the typical why in which cancer patients are viewed. It is because of their physical abnormalities that restricts them from living a somewhat "normal" life because of their inability to perform any physical activities other than walking. Also, their physical differences from that of "normal" person, therefore drawing much attention to their considered "deformities" (Hazel does not have a deformity but does carry around an oxygen tank). Physically, Hazel and Augustus do fall into the category of of a cancer patient, however, emotionally, they do not. Augustus has a very positive aura about him, bringing light to those in pain. He chooses to look at the glass half full, rather than half empty, but depending on the situation, his realistic point of view can very well sound condescending. Hazel tries her best to act like a normal teenager, even after knowing the way people look at her because of her oxygen tank. Her wisdom and sarcasm expresses her extreme maturity, but can either be appreciated or disparaging. Although their views on various different subjects regarding the philosophies and forever questions of life might tend to differ immensely from each other, it is their passion for life, literature, and each other that truly complement each other.
I believe Hazel's relationship with her parents is somewhat typical, however, I don't feel that it will ever be normal, given her unusual circumstance. Hazel and her mother seem to have a very close relationship. It seems that Hazel does not particularly mind going on various public outings with her mother, such as going to the mall, knowing that many teenagers would be very embarrassed by performing such activities. However, I think that their relationship simply evolves around the well being of Hazel. I feel that Hazel's relationship with her mother differs very much from that with her father. Hazel and her father have a much different connection, where they are able to talk freely and thoughtless, and the conversations just flow. "It's total bullshit," he said. "The whole thing. Eighty percent survival rate and he's in the twenty percent? Bullshit..." (p. 278) Of course he is concerned for Hazel, however, he does not spend his time with her dwelling on the fact that she is ill, but more to absorb every last moment they have together, and create every last memory they can together. On many occasions, though, Hazel's father does express his feelings about his deprivation he will have when Hazel is gone. Hazel mentioned how he tends to cry a lot over her condition, being that they are not sure exactly how much time she has left. Although the connections of her mother and father vary immensely, the love they share for Hazel is exactly the same. I do feel that Hazel's parents treat her differently than that of a normal child, but only because they have to. She could have easily "exploded" already if Hazel's parents did not treat like she has cancer.
"Okay," he said after forever. "Maybe 'okay' will be our 'always.'" (p. 73 - Chapter 5) This line in the book is such a vital aspect for the rest of the story. It symbolizes the discovery of the new found love they have for each other, and the affection that Monica and Isaac ONCE had. The simple word "okay" now shows how much their care and support each other, despite the circumstance. It now has a new meaning that can never be replaced.

"I'm like a grenade, Mom. I'm a grenade and at some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay." (p. 99 - Chapter 6) This is a major transition chapter, for Hazel comes to the realization that she now has feelings for Augustus, however, she refuses to associate herself with him in that way. Hazel believed that she was a grenade, meaning unexpectedly, she will blow up (die), and wants to hurt as few people as possible. She believed that "to be with him was to hurt him," so she thought that if she could just remain friends with Augustus, the hurt would be rather minimal. Little did she know how difficult this will be, with his alluring eyes and captivating personality.
February 25 - Response #1
February 25 - Eulogy
It is very difficult for me to put Sage and I's friendship into words, or how much I will miss her. I'm sure no one quite truly understands the unbreakable bond we had, and I'm almost positive about 99% of you thought we were weird. To be quite frank with you, I thought we were weird, too. Anyways, I will try my hardest to summarize the adventures we encountered and the fascinating qualities of my late friend, Sage. Sage had this drive that I believed came naturally to her. Her ambition was contagious, inspiring others to strive for the best. Her positive spirit seemed to always brighten my day. Before I spend my entire speech boring you with Sage's amazing traits, I will sum it up into about 5 words: she was the full package; athletic, intellectual, beautiful, intelligent, kind, charismatic, considerate, and passionate. I could go on forever, but I figured 8 adjectives was a great stopping point, being that it was her lucky number. I remember one day in French class she said to me, "Scarlett, you always make me laugh," and then we continued to drown ourselves in laughter. It breaks my heart that I can never hear that laugh again, only the silent sound of her cadaverous spirit. Sage Livingstone Molasky (as she always used to sign) filled my heart with this indescribable joy. I have to say, honestly, I have never laughed more with any other one of my friends than Sage. I can't pinpoint it, but we had this simple connection that I have never felt with any other friend, creating unforgettable memories, and an even larger loss on my part. Our closeness might have seemed strange to others, but the reason for it is because our connection felt like that between sisters. Through all of the gossip, laughs, tears, and smiles, her support was constant, and she never left my side. We had countless inside jokes, like "plug it in," and although none of you understand exactly what I am saying, I know she is listening from above, quietly singing the tune inside of her mind. Our cupcake adventures were quite interesting. Although they tasted absolutely AWFUL, it still created a memory that I shall never forget unless some aliens abduct me and use some new technology to erase all of my memory. Her presence in my life fulfilled any emptiness that I have ever felt, creating a passionate friendship that cannot, and will not be replaced. I will never be able to escape the burning truth of her death, nor will I ever understand it, but I guess it is time that I accept it. She will forever have a special place in my heart, and I will forever love my Sagey Poo. I'll bet she is listening to this from heaven, looking for spelling errors or better word choice, but not being able to see her ever again simply creates a void in my life that can never be filled once again. "I love you Scarleyboo," Sage once said to me.

Chapters 23-25 Activities #1
Because of Van Houten's spiteful words and lackadaisical attitude, I don't feel as though Hazel will ever think the same of him again after knowing his true self. With that being said, I do feel that Peter's apology is very meaningful, and the mere fact that he is apologizing at all is completely out of his comfort zone. Also, after discovering the truth about Van Houten's life and the tragic death of his daughter, it enlightens Hazel, knowing that Van Houten is the way he is for a reason. Although Peter Van Houten's views on life provides Hazel with this irrepressible rage, his attempt of apologizing and the story of the tragedies that have occurred within his life allows a form of forgiveness to be found in Hazel's dying heart.

"Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you." (p. 286) During times of eternal suffering, people have various coping mechanisms that they use in times of distress. In relation to Hazel, Augustus, and Peter Van Houten's daughter, it is their true colors that come through after effortlessly trying to save themselves from the hurt that is to come. Some might be in denial over the truth, while others are filled with anger and agony that will continue to build up inside of them. Van Houten is simply saying that when grieving over someone or something, it does not change who you are, but simply reveals reveals who you really are, and it is during times like that of Van Houten's experience when you can finally discover your once lost soul. This line resonates with me the most because it could not be any more true, and the authenticity of this line gives the book more depth, and allows readers to feel personally connected to incidents that could be occurring withing their lives.
Chapters 23-25 Activities #1
"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." "I do Augustus, I do." (p. 313) In the beginning of the novel, Hazel admittedly said that she does love Augustus, but would like to leave this world hurting as few people as possible, therefore she does not allow herself to love him. Of course as we later discover, Augustus and Hazel end up falling in love, creating a tragic love story with moments of happiness, but a forever feeling of emptiness. In Augustus' eulogy for Hazel, he says how he is okay being hurt by Hazel, for his love for her is too powerful to be completely disregarded based off of fear. Hazel responds to this eulogy saying she likes her choice of being hurt by Augustus as well, because of all people, why not be hurt by the one person you love most. It is also a very essential element that the Hazel says "I do" in present tense, after the entire book being written in past tense. It is as if she was telling their whole story, and then reminding us of the eternal love they will always have for each other. Also, John Green purposely made Hazel saying "I do," being that it is said at weddings to symbolize the love and care people have for each other, but he is NOT implying that Hazel and Augustus got married.
Life is finite, love is eternal.
Chapters 23-25 Activities:
Six-Word Story
1. How did you meet Augustus Waters? What was your first impression of him?
I first met Augustus through a mutual friend who attended the same school as me. I was invited by this friend to one of their school dances where I met him. My first impression of him? To be completely honest with you, I completely hated him at first. I thought he was the cockiest and most arrogant person I have ever met. After the dance, we all went to dinner where I got a chance to get know him. I then realized he is not in fact the idiot that I met at the dance, but a heartfelt and funny extrovert with about 1 ½ legs who enjoys making metaphors and symbolic resonances out of most everything. From then on, we developed this somewhat unbreakable bond, like that between 2 brothers, able to connect through our tragic lives and living in a world of complete and utter suck.
2. Did Augustus discuss Hazel with you when he first met her?
I first met Augustus through a mutual friend who attended the same school as me. I was invited by this friend to one of their school dances where I met him. My first impression of him? To be completely honest with you, I completely hated him at first. I thought he was the cockiest and most arrogant person I have ever met. After the dance, we all went to dinner where I got a chance to get know him. I then realized he is not in fact the idiot that I met at the dance, but a heartfelt and funny extrovert with about 1 ½ legs who enjoys making metaphors and symbolic resonances out of most everything. From then on, we developed this somewhat unbreakable bond, like that between 2 brothers, able to connect through our tragic lives and living in a world of complete and utter suck.
3. Have you spoken to Monica after egging her car yet? What did she say?
I first met Augustus through a mutual friend who attended the same school as me. I was invited by this friend to one of their school dances where I met him. My first impression of him? To be completely honest with you, I completely hated him at first. I thought he was the cockiest and most arrogant person I have ever met. After the dance, we all went to dinner where I got a chance to get know him. I then realized he is not in fact the idiot that I met at the dance, but a heartfelt and funny extrovert with about 1 ½ legs who enjoys making metaphors and symbolic resonances out of most everything. From then on, we developed this somewhat unbreakable bond, like that between 2 brothers, able to connect through our tragic lives and living in a world of complete and utter suck.

CHAPTERS 23-25 activities #3
4. Augustus and Hazel always looked after you. Whats is something you would want to do for them?
There are so many things that I would love to do for Hazel and Augustus to repay them for their constant care and support, but unfortunately, my blindness restricts those abilities. There are so many things that I would love to do for Hazel and Augustus to repay them for their constant care and support, but unfortunately, my blindness restricts those abilities. If only this was realistic, the best thing I think I could for them would be to cure their cancer. I know first hand that this would allow them to live an easier, happier, and healthier lifestyle.
5. Can you describe your typical day to me?
I wake up, but I don’t really feel very awake considering I can’t see anything. My mom helps me get ready such as dressing me and cleaning me. Then she helps me down the stairs to eat some breakfast that she usually ends up feeding to me because one time I almost stuck my fork in a lit candle thinking it was my pancakes. I then either go to Support Group if it is being held that day, go to Augustus’ or Hazel’s house, or have them come over to my house. If ALL of those options are unavailable, then I will stay home and talk to my favorite video game, which is best played alongside Augustus. I am then fed the rest of my meals for the day, assisted in getting ready for bed, get in my bed, and the repeat for the rest of my life. After having my eyes cut out of my head, I realized that there are not that many interesting activities for blind people. A day in the life of Isaac would absolutely bore you to death.
6. What is the current situation with your cancer? Has it gotten better or worse?
Because my eyes were the primary the source of my cancer, and I had them surgically removed from my face, I am currently living cancer free. The only possibility of my cancer returning is if it appears somewhere else in my body. I sacrificed my eyesight in order to live a healthy lifestyle. My current condition is the same as every other blind person in this world, but at least I am living healthily, just not completely happily.
Chapters 23-25 Activities #2
The sky is crying, sending teardrops from above,
The depression and sadness overcomes all the love.
This water is the agonizing secret of despair,
The clouds prevail the last bit of
left in the air.

But then the sun peaks through with a promise of light,
The flowers begin to blossom and the bees take flight.
There shall always be sunlight after experiencing rain,
There shall always be
after experiencing pain.

"But I will say this: when the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him." (p. 258) This is Isaac's eulogy for Augustus that he said at his pre-funeral. It shows that no technological advancements, no machine to cure cancer, and no special robotic eyes can ever replace the purity and goodness that was found within Augustus. Not only did he leave a wound on very few people, but he left a scar, one that cannot be healed. If those people truly know Augustus, they will know that there is nothing that exists or will exist that can make this world better if there is no Augustus Waters living on it.

"You have me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful." (p. 260) Hazel and Augustus shared a love for each other that meant unconditional support, protection, and respect. This love was a promise, and together they fulfilled this promise "within the numbered days." Hazel is saying that even though Augustus is gone, he still provided her with the comfort of knowing that their love meant forever, despite the limited time frame.

"I called it a nine because I was saving my ten." (p. 263) Earlier in the novel, Hazel suffered a traumatic, cancer-related health problem. When the nurse asked her her pain level, Hazel said it was nine, even though it might have felt like a ten. Hazel did not realize that she was actually saving her ten for the indescribable and inescapable pain she would suffer after the death of Augustus. That pain surpasses any headache, illness, or breathing problem, for this pain is not treatable and cannot be cured. Even though her cancer is not curable, it is being treated and remaining somewhat steady. However, the agonizing feeling of loss and love after the death of Augustus shall never go away, and nothing in this universe has the power to free her of this feeling.
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