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In the book The Fault in Our Stars, the characters Hazel Grace and Augustus are two teens coping with cancer. Hazel distances herself from others. When she meets Augustus at a support group, they become friends.
Augustus has a happy go lucky personality. He tries to ignore death and grabs onto the special moments in his life. He lost his leg to cancer, and his way of coping with the loss is by making jokes. However, one can still see that although Augustus jokes about things, the threat of dying from cancer is always present. One example of this is that he keeps a cigarette in his mouth. He had previously been a smoker. Although he never lights the cigarette, Augustus' actions demonstrate that despite Augustus' joking about cancer, he is aware of the ever present danger.
Hazel copes with her illness by putting her thoughts into an unfinished book by an author who lives in Amsterdam. The unfinished story leaves Hazel searching for an ending to the story about a girl. The story serves as a distraction for Hazel, but it also provides her with a sense of hope. She longs to meet the author and find out what happened to the girl in the story.
The two teens travel to Amsterdam on a wish grant from a cancer support association. The first night there, they are treated to dinner by the author. Later, they learn that his assistant had arranged the dinner for them. When they meet the author, they discover that he is a bitter old man and that the girl in the story was his child. She had died.
Hazel is upset by the author's behavior. The reality of the situation is very different from what is presented to her. One begins to see some foreshadowing in this part because Augustus starts having some discomfort in his leg. Hazel has always expected that she will die before Augustus, but Augustus' leg is a sign that cancer has progressed, and he dies shortly after the couple return home.
The author travels to Augustus' funeral and seeks reconciliation. However, Hazel no longer cares. She has seen the reality that the old man has turned his feelings into alcoholism and destructive behavior. To Hazel, the author has wasted the memory of his child. She will not let his presence take her away from her thoughts of a better person, Augustus, who had chosen to embrace life despite his hardships.
Hazel and Augustus have learned several lessons:
- hardships are easier to go through with a friend
- reality is not always what one expects it to be
- love is worth having, even for a brief period
- parents have a difficult time letting go of their children
- Hazel learns that her mother has put some things in her life so that she can go forward after Hazel's death despite the emotional pain and loss that she will experience
- not every story in life has a happy ending
- Augustus teaches Hazel to make her mark in life through other people
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