The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

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Chapter 21 Summary

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Eight days later, Hazel gets another nighttime phone call, this time from Augustus’s mom. Once again, Hazel steels herself for news of his death. This time she gets what she expects.

When Hazel hears that Augustus is gone, she feels like she is falling apart. She lets her parents comfort her for a while, and she calls Isaac, who seems furious. Afterward, Hazel realizes that she does not know anyone else to call. It makes her sadder than ever to think about how few people love Augustus.

Losing Augustus is horrible. At the end of his life, all Hazel had with him were memories of their short time together, but it was nice to think about them together. Now that she has nobody to share those memories with, she feels like she has lost the pleasure of remembering.

Shortly after Hazel was first diagnosed with cancer, she had an attack of pain that made her feel her “chest was on fire.” When the ER nurse asked her to rate her pain on a scale of one to ten, ten being unbearable, Hazel called it a nine. Afterward, the nurse called Hazel strong for saying nine instead of ten.

Reflecting on that experience, Hazel says that the nurse was wrong. She was not rating her pain lower as an act of strength, but because she was “saving” her ten rating for a bigger, rarer pain. Now, having lost Augustus, Hazel finally knows what a ten is like. Her grief hits her so hard she cannot bear it, but there is nothing else to do.

In the next few hours, Hazel calls Augustus’s phone and listens to his voice mail. She also visits his Web page and reads the messages and condolences people are posting. It amazes her to see dozens upon dozens of cliché-filled messages from people Augustus never mentioned, people who certainly never bothered to visit him in the final days. For a while she amuses herself imagining what Augustus himself would say in response to the ridiculous content of some of the notes they leave.

Annoyed by these messages, Hazel eventually makes a thoughtful reply about mortality. Nobody responds, and her comment gets lost in a sea of Hallmark-style wishes that others leave. She tells herself that people are writing about genuine feelings, but it infuriates her that they were not there for Augustus when he needed them.

That evening, Hazel’s parents ask what they can do to help her. She does not know, so they just hold her while she cries.

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Chapter 20 Summary


Chapter 22 Summary