The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

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What is the mood and atmosphere of  John Green's The Fault in Our Stars?

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The mood and atmosphere of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars is set early in the opening of the novel. Readers immediately come to know the protagonist, Hazel Grace Lancaster, through a very direct characterization: she rarely leaves the house, reads the same book again and again, rarely eats, and spends all of her time thinking about death. Her mother, because of her activities, believes that she (Hazel) is depressed. Most readers may not come to question this since Hazel has cancer.

Eventually, Hazel meets a boy (Augustus Waters) who possesses a completely different outlook on life. His outlook on life, the "roller coaster that only goes up," proves that there is another way to look at life. Hazel, intrigued by Augustus, begins to take part in her support group (albeit to simply add humor). The remainder of the novel follows Hazel and Augustus through their battles with cancer. 

Although the topic of cancer, especially in teens, is depressing, the novel illustrates that life is what one makes of it. Hazel comes to find out that Augustus loved her, and she is able to come to terms with her place in the world (defined by Augustus). The mood of the novel, while at times is rather depressing, is hopeful. The times which bring light into Hazel's life (Amsterdam and walking without her oxygen tank) show promise for her (although she cannot walk far without the tank). The mood and atmosphere change as Hazel does. When she is having a good day, the mood of the novel is upbeat. When she is having a bad day, the mood of the novel is depressing. This allows readers to really "see" what it would be like to live with cancer (figuratively). 

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What is the mood in John Green's The Fault in our Stars? 

On the top of the cover of the book, in blue hand-written looking text, there is a quote by Jodi Picoult that actually describes the mood perfectly: "Electric. . . Filled with staccato bursts of humor and tragedy." This is a wonderful description of the story as well as life. Green captures the human condition perfectly because even though people do face life-threatening illnesses, which is tragic, life can still be filled with love and humor around every corner. The mood reflects the themes and lessons of life, no matter how short that life may be.

One example of a scene in the book that shows both humor and tragedy all in one is when Hazel first watches Isaac and Gus play video games in the basement. Isaac is going through a breakup, so he is vulnerable, but the relationship between Gus and Hazel is just beginning. All three characters face life-threatening illnesses. But do they sit around moping about their plight? Well, maybe Isaac does, but he's more upset about the loss of his girlfriend than his eyesight. Gus has the best attitude of all and it is reflected in his speech.

"Isaac, I feel a growing concern about our position. If you agree, head over to that power station,...

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and I'll cover you" (57).

Augustus is full of funny dialogue aligned perfectly with compassionate will-power. At the end of this scene, for instance, Isaac bursts into a temper tantrum and Gus, like the best friend ever, is right there by his side encouraging him. Isaac even breaks basketball trophies and Augustus tells him to "Get it!"

"Augustus stepped toward him and looked down. 'Feel better?' he asked.

'No,' Isaac mumbled, his chest heaving.

'That's the thing about pain,' Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. 'It demands to be felt'" (63).

This is a great example of life and the human experience. We can be faced with the most traumatic and devastating futures, but we can also have positive attitudes in the present if we choose. Readers are in for a definite emotional roller coaster in this book.

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What is the mood in John Green's The Fault in our Stars?

The Fault in Our Stars, written by John Green, tells the story of two teenagers who meet at their cancer support group. Sixteen-year-old Hazel has had thyroid cancer for several years and has come to terms with her mortality and her place in the world. Hazel is quite mature for accepting her fate, but her mother also thinks that she has become depressed. (Hazel thinks depression is a side-effect of knowing you will die.) One day when Hazel is attending support group, she meets seventeen-year-old Augustus, who is recovering from osteosarcoma. She thinks he is pretentious and a little obnoxious, but funny and charming at the same time. Hazel and Augustus forge a bittersweet friendship after Augustus pretends to smoke a cigarette-- he tells Hazel that he likes the metaphor of holding the killing-thing (the cigarette) but not giving it the power to kill you (by lighting it) as a means of having some power in his own mortality. 

From the very beginning, we can sense that this story is bittersweet. It is depressing to think or know that someone will die, to know that we, ourselves, will die. For that reason, the mood or tone of this book is often sorrowful or full of grief.

Hazel and Augustus have two different approaches to reconciling the knowledge of their morality. For Hazel, she is comforted by knowing that everyone will die someday. Augustus does not appreciate that sentiment as much, but feels that he can at least make the most out of his time while he is still alive. Augustus wants to make the most out of his, and Hazel's, time as friends by offering to use his "wish," granted by an organization for children and teens with cancer, to take Hazel to meet her favorite author. When the two travel to Amsterdam and enjoy the beautiful city, a fancy dinner, and meet this author, the story is really hopeful. Hazel and Augustus know that they have cancer and decide to do this ambitious and happy thing not as a way of denying their health status but in spite of it. They want to show cancer who's boss! 

Sadly, their trip is not all they hoped for. When they meet Hazel's favorite author to ask him their pressing questions, they find out he is a miserable drunk. Hazel and Augustus storm out, disappointed that he was not who they expected, but proud of themselves for accomplishing what they had set out to do. What's more, they had grown closer to each other during the journey and fallen in love. 

All throughout the book, sorrow, grief, and joy are interwoven to create a heart-wrenching and very real narrative. Life is never made up of only happy things or only terrible things, and John Green has done an excellent job of showing this. It is quite sobering. Even when Augustus dies from a relapse of cancer, Hazel cherishes his memory and that which he taught her about how to let go and make the most of the time she has.

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