The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

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Chapter 17 Summary

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One day, a little more than a month after the trip to Amsterdam, Hazel arrives at Augustus’s house as usual. He is still asleep, so Hazel goes downstairs and knocks on his door. He does not answer, so she cautiously enters.

Inside the bedroom, Hazel finds Augustus still in bed, mumbling incoherently. He has peed all over himself. She tries not to look closer, and she calls for his parents. She waits upstairs while they take care of the mess.

When everything is ready, Hazel returns to the basement and finds Augustus fuzzily awake, ready for “the excruciating day.” They both sit on the mattress, which his parents have stripped of sheets, and they play Counterinsurgence together. His brain is so sluggish from his cancer drugs that he is playing as badly as Hazel. The two of them cannot keep the game going for more than a minute or two without letting their characters die. Augustus does not even manage to die heroically; he simply makes stupid mistakes the way Hazel always does.

For a long time, Hazel does not speak. She hopes privately that Augustus is so incoherent that he will fail to remember this morning's incident. Unfortunately, he is not so lucky. He mumbles that he is “mortified.” As Hazel tries to comfort him, she calls him by his family nickname, Gus. He observes sadly that she called him Augustus when he was healthy.

Later that day, Augustus says that he always assumed he would die important, the kind of person who would inspire a long obituary article in the newspaper. Hazel tells him that he is special as he is, but he is not satisfied.

Hazel understands that Augustus wants to make a mark on the world, but she cannot really understand why. She says that she does not care if there is no New York Times obituary about her; all she wants is an obituary by Augustus. She also suggests that he is being unkind:

You say you’re not special because the world doesn’t know about you, but that’s an insult to me. know about you.

Augustus does not apologize. Instead he tells her that he will not live long enough to write her obituary. She gets frustrated and rants that he is never going to do the heroic things he wants to do. All he gets is his family and his girlfriend and his seventeen years of life. She is trying to get him to appreciate what he has, but in the process, she accidentally calls attention to how weak and pathetic he seems now. She stops herself before she finishes, but he knows what she was saying.

Hazel tries to apologize, but Augustus cuts her off and says she is right. They restart the game and play in awkward silence.

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