Chapter 20 Summary

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 568

When people tell stories about cancer deaths, they often include a phenomenon Hazel calls the Last Good Day. According to Hazel, this is a day when the patient’s decline is not quite as steep, and the pain is not quite as bad. She comments that cancer victims and their loved...

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When people tell stories about cancer deaths, they often include a phenomenon Hazel calls the Last Good Day. According to Hazel, this is a day when the patient’s decline is not quite as steep, and the pain is not quite as bad. She comments that cancer victims and their loved ones cannot know when a good day is the Last Good Day. That part only becomes clear after the patient’s death.

One day Hazel decides to stay home instead of visiting Augustus. She is not feeling well, and she knows that she needs to avoid wearing herself out. She lazes around with her family, watching TV, until Augustus calls. In a voice full of bravado, he asks her to meet him at “the Literal Heart of Jesus” that evening. Before he says good-bye, he asks her to bring along a eulogy, which is a short speech meant to be read aloud at a funeral.

When Hazel hangs up and tells her parents where she is going, they protest that they are not seeing much of her lately. Hazel shrugs off these protests and says that Augustus’s need is greater. When her parents do not back down, she snaps that she will spend more time with them if they “get a terminal disease.” She also tells her mother to “get a life.”

This last comment infuriates Hazel’s dad, who grabs her by the arm and demands that she apologize. During this struggle, the oxygen tube twists its way out of Hazel’s nose, and she gets breathless and faint. Her dad seems to feel guilty as he helps her put the tube back in, but he still insists that she apologize. She does so haughtily and goes to her room.

Hazel spends the next couple of hours writing a eulogy for Augustus and ignoring her parents’ repeated knocks on the door. When she finally emerges, her dad tells her that she cannot go out. She shouts at him that her boyfriend just asked her to write his eulogy, and that she is pretty sure she will be spending a lot more time at home starting very soon. At this, her parents clam up, and she walks out.

At “the Literal Heart of Jesus,” Hazel finds Augustus sitting in the middle of the room in his wheelchair. Isaac is already there, standing at a podium. Augustus explains that he has decided to hold a “prefuneral” so that he can hear what his friends will say about him when he is dead.

Isaac’s eulogy begins with a series of insults. He calls Augustus “a self-aggrandizing bastard” who would “interrupt you at his own funeral.” (As it happens, Augustus interrupts this eulogy several times.) Nevertheless, Isaac says that someday, when scientists offer him artificial eyes, he will tell them “to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without [Augustus].”

After this speech, Hazel helps Isaac to his seat, and then she reads her own eulogy. In it, she restates a point that Van Houten made during their visit to Amsterdam: “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” She says that she wishes she and Augustus would both live longer lives, but she also says that she has loved the “little infinity” the two of them have spent together. “You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful,” she says.

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