The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

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What is some figurative language like metaphors, imagery, and similes used in the novel The Fault In Our Stars that explores the themes of death and love?

An example of figurative language used to explore the theme of death and love comes when Hazel uses a metaphor to tell her mom, “I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties.” This line tells the reader why Hazel tries to socially isolate herself and how she processes the awareness of her mortality. Green uses figurative language to help the reader understand the characters’ feelings and experiences.

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John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars is rich with figurative language that explores its themes, such as death and love. For example, consider the scene in which Hazel observes Isaac’s reaction to his girlfriend breaking up with him.

"She didn’t want to dump a blind guy," I said. He nodded, the tears not like tears so much as a quiet metronome—steady, endless.

Here the simile used to compare the tears and the metronome emphasize how heartbroken Isaac is. A metronome is a device that measures tempo and that goes on and on until someone chooses to turn it off. This comparison helps the reader visualize the scene and understand that Isaac did not have an outburst of sadness. Instead, the image shows that he internalized his heartbreak in a quiet, painful way that he will carry with him for a long time.

Another example is when Hazel talks to her mom about how she does not want to go on dates.

I’m like. Like. 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?

The comparison between Hazel and a grenade here highlights her awareness of her mortality. Hazel knows that there is a chance that she will die young and potentially at any moment. The image of her blowing up like a grenade shows the reader how Hazel envisions this kind of death, as one that will hurt anything in its vicinity. This comparison—stated first as a simile ("I'm like a grenade") and then as a straightforward metaphor ("I'm a grenade")—helps develop Hazel as a character and explains why she tries to socially isolate herself.

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What are some figurative languages or techniques used in the novel The Fault in Our Stars that explore the idea of love and death?

One technique used in the novel The Fault in Our Stars that explores the idea of love and death is shown in the characters' seeming irreverent attitudes and the way they banter about their diagnoses, almost as if they want to project the notion that they do not care about death. Gus and Isaac are seen as contrasts to Hazel in this respect. In fact, the novel starts out with Hazel acknowledging her depression over her diagnosis.

However, throughout the book, Gus treats the illness with an attitude of bravado. His need to have a cigarette in hand to show that he is in control is a technique the author uses to show that Gus wants to fight the disease but understands the difficulties involved. The cigarette is one of his weapons—along with his attitude—in his fight. The cigarette is also his prop in the charade he plays when the reader learns that Gus has lost his battle. Gus's joking about his leg or referring to the Make-A-Wish Foundation granting "Cancer Perks" is also an example of this irreverence.

Another example of figurative language is the teasing among the main characters, which shows their love for and their understanding of one another. At support group, Gus mocks Isaac's diagnosis in a way that is intended to reassure Isaac, not belittle him. When Patrick asks about their fears, Gus responds,

“I fear it like the proverbial blind man who’s afraid of the dark.”

“Too soon,” Isaac said, cracking a smile.

“Was that insensitive?” Augustus asked. “I can be pretty blind to other people’s feelings.”

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