Chapter 23 Summary

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 489

A few days later, Hazel visits Isaac at his house. They play a video game for blind people, but neither of them is particularly interested in winning. They mostly try to make the voice recognition software understand silly commands about licking and humping objects in the game. The computer repeatedly...

(The entire section contains 489 words.)

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A few days later, Hazel visits Isaac at his house. They play a video game for blind people, but neither of them is particularly interested in winning. They mostly try to make the voice recognition software understand silly commands about licking and humping objects in the game. The computer repeatedly responds by saying, “I do not understand.” Eventually, Isaac tells the computer that he hates not having Augustus Waters in his life anymore. When the computer starts to say that it does not understand, Isaac says, “Me neither.”

After that, Isaac and Hazel give up trying to play. They just sit on the couch, and Isaac asks what Augustus’s death was like. Hazel explains what she heard from the family, and Isaac comments that she sounds angry. She admits that she is.

During this conversation, Isaac asks if Hazel ever read “that thing” that Augustus was writing for her. Hazel never knew he was writing anything, and she demands to know what it was. Isaac does not know exactly, but he says that Augustus mentioned it a month ago.

Hazel rushes out to look for any writing Augustus might have left behind for her. She gets into the car, and when she turns the key, Swedish hip-hop blares at her. She turns around and finds Peter Van Houten in the backseat. He tells her that everything she said to him after the funeral was true. She reflects privately that she would be more impressed by this admission if he were not obviously drunk.

Hazel tries to kick Van Houten out of the car, but he insists on staying long enough to apologize. He says repeatedly that she reminds him of Anna. At first Hazel assumes that he means the main character of his book, but slowly it dawns on her that he had an actual daughter who died of cancer. She asks about this, and he explains that his daughter died at the age of eight. For him, An Imperial Affliction was a chance to imagine what his child’s life would have been like if she had survived to be a teenager.

At the end of this conversation, Hazel tells Van Houten that he should go home and write. She says that he is lucky to be so talented and that most people do not get that privilege. He claims to agree, and he seems serious—but Hazel gets the impression that he will continue wasting his life by drinking and wallowing in grief.

After Van Houten leaves, Hazel goes to Augustus’s house. She sits with his parents for a while and then explains that Isaac said he was writing something for her. She gets permission to search Augustus’s bedroom, but she finds nothing. His parents seem to think that her search is a bit naïve. They say that it is natural to want some last words from Augustus, but that he is gone.

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