Five Feet Apart Themes

The main themes in Five Feet Apart are life and death, love, and rebellion.

  • Life and death: The novel explores what makes life worth living through the relationship between Stella and Will, both of whom have cystic fibrosis, a potentially deadly disease.
  • Love: The love Stella feels for Will, Poe, and Abby demonstrates the idea that love in all its forms is an essential part of a meaningful life.
  • Rebellion: Will convinces Stella to rebel against some of the rules imposed on them, believing that living life fully is more important than extending life as long as possible.


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Last Updated on June 24, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 532

Life and Death

Five Feet Apart explores questions of life and death in harrowing detail. Throughout the novel, the characters’ lives are in constant danger. Stella and Will both have cystic fibrosis, and if they contract each other’s bacterial infections, they will likely die from them. The protagonist, Stella, experiences the deaths of several people around her, including her older sister prior to the events of the novel, and her good friend Poe, a fellow cystic fibrosis patient. Will’s illness is severe enough that even a lung transplant won’t be enough to save his life, and he considers his death inevitable. Instead of focusing on his treatment, Will commits to living a full life with the time he has left, an outlook that Stella begins to adopt as well. When she takes this attitude too far, however, choosing to continue ice-skating with Will rather than return to the hospital for her lung transplant, it is Will who tries to convince her to prioritize her health. Through all of these events, the novel emphasizes the fleeting nature of life and the importance of filling it with meaningful relationships and significant experiences.

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Through Stella’s relationships with others, Five Feet Apart demonstrates that love is one of the most important and meaningful aspects of a person’s life. The novel explores love in several forms: the romantic love between Stella and Will, the familial love between Stella and her older sister, and the loving friendship between Stella and Poe. While the deaths of her sister and Poe are painful for Stella, the relationships she shared with them give meaning to her life, as does her relationship with Will, whose death from cystic fibrosis appears inevitable. Will encourages Stella to take risks for love, such as closing the requisite distance between them by a foot and ice-skating...

(The entire section contains 532 words.)

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