In Chapter 1 of The Fault In Our Stars, we are introduced to the two main characters of the novel, Hazel Grace Lancaster, whose cancer has spread to her lungs, and Augustus Waters, who is suffering from osteosarcoma. Hazel's mother and doctor feel that she may benefit from a weekly cancer support group. Although she attends the support group, she is a little contemptuous of what she feels is the empty rhetoric and superficial cliches the leaders and the group participants indulge in. She enjoys a cynical camaraderie with a young man named Isaac and is attracted to Augustus for his glib approach to cancer. He tells her that she reminds him of Evie Hammond, who is played by Natalie Portman in the movie V for Vendetta.
In Chapter 2, Hazel gets to know more about Augustus. She comments on Augustus' less than stellar driving abilities, and he tells her that he lost one of his legs to cancer and now has to make do with a prosthetic leg, which prevents him from being a better driver. He jokes that he only got his license as a cancer perk:
"Cancer Perks are little things that cancer kids get that regular kids don’t: basketballs signed by sports heroes, free passes on late homework, unearned driver’s licenses, etc."
Hazel asks where Augustus goes to school to gauge how long he has to live. In this novel, you will find that the characters attempt to manage the ramifications of their terminal illnesses by referring to aspects of their diseases with metaphors (like the cigarette that Augustus holds in his mouth in Chapter 1 - he does not smoke; the cigarette represents the malevolence of the cancer: balancing this "cancer" between his lips lends him a symbolic, desperate control over his mortality). Even the novel referenced, V for Vendetta, is a metaphor for the pervasive fascism of cancer. Cancer controls and monitors every aspect of living while destroying all sense of hope for the future, much like the fascist police state in the movie. Hazel and Augustus' jaded exteriors mask private fears about the uncertainty and frailty of life on earth, and the inevitability of death. Hazel tells Augustus that she was diagnosed with terminal Stage 4 thyroid cancer at only thirteen years old. The chapter ends with Augustus and Hazel watching V for Vendetta together and both exchanging books to read. Augustus promises to read An Imperial Affliction ( Hazel's favorite book) if she will read his favorite, The Price Of Dawn.
The first two chapters introduce the two main characters as a vehicle for an existentialist exploration of life. Augustus talks about his "existential epiphany" in Chapter 2. Hazel's contempt for the dishonesty of feel-good cliches as a response to cancer is a very existentialist response. She rebels against the religious and social constructs accepted by most people. Augustus is seeking meaning for all his actions. He questions why he shot hoops when he was a star basketball player. The existentialist cries out for the meaning of life, the universe, existence and death.
You can read more about existentialism here below:
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