The Fault in Our Stars Characters
The characters in The Fault in Our Stars are Hazel Grace Lancaster, Augustus Waters, Isaac, and Peter Van Houten.
- Hazel Grace Lancaster is a sixteen-year-old girl with a terminal cancer diagnosis. She worries about how her parents will persevere after her death and fears getting too close to people—until she meets Augustus.
- Augustus Waters meets Hazel at a cancer support group, and the two fall in love.
- Isaac is Augustus’s close friend.
- Peter Van Houten, a reclusive writer, wrote Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. He lives in the Netherlands and invites Hazel and Augustus to meet him.
Last Updated September 6, 2023.
Hazel Grace Lancaster
Hazel is the protagonist and narrator of The Fault in Our Stars. A well-read and intelligent sixteen-year-old girl, she admits that she knows her life will be brief and that this knowledge shapes her experiences. While her mother insists that Hazel is “depressed” because of her terminal cancer diagnosis, Hazel looks at things another way. Rather than behaving like a depressed person, her apparent fatalism is actually, in her eyes, simply a desire to enjoy the things she enjoys without caring about what is “cool” or what others think, simply because she will not be on earth for long. She describes her cancer in forthright terms: it is a fact of life she has come to terms with.
However, there are still areas where Hazel struggles, largely in relation to how her cancer may affect other people. While she tries to live life to the fullest possible extent, she is extremely anxious about what will happen to her parents after she dies, noting that, however terrible it may be for a teenager to die of cancer, it is worse for that teenager’s parents. Her reluctance to hurt others also prevents her from beginning a relationship with Augustus until it becomes inevitable, as she does not want to put him through the pain of losing her.
Hazel’s first impression of Augustus, when she meets him at her support group, is that he is “hot.” From the beginning, he charms Hazel with his wit and intelligence, which seems to interlock with her own, as well as with his good looks. Unlike Hazel, however, he is approaching life from the perspective of somebody who has—or so he believes—beaten cancer. He approaches Hazel very quickly and makes it obvious that he wishes to pursue a relationship with her. He shows the same initiative and drive when he writes to Peter Van Houten, something Hazel has never done despite her prolonged curiosity about the ending of her favorite book. Augustus’s brush with death seems to have intensified his desire to somehow make his mark on the world, to do something “for the greater good.” Ultimately, he feels that this opportunity has been taken from him when his cancer unexpectedly returns; as far as Hazel is concerned, however, he has made a powerful impression on her, enabling her to better accept her situation in life and feel more comfortable about forming close bonds with others.
Isaac is the mutual friend through whom Hazel and Augustus are first introduced to one another. At the beginning of the story, Isaac has one glass eye and is awaiting surgery to remove his other eye. While he struggles to be a supportive friend and to maintain an upbeat attitude, he is deeply wounded when his girlfriend, Monica, breaks up with him shortly before the surgery that will leave him blind. His usual optimism is replaced by an outburst of anger and despair at how life has treated him.
In contrast to Monica’s behavior, however, Augustus’s friendship and loyalty for Isaac remain unshaken. The relationship between the two of them shifts over the course of the book: early in the story, it is Isaac whose suffering is greatest, and Augustus supports him. Later, when the tables are turned and Augustus’s cancer returns, Isaac’s chance comes to repay Augustus for his kindness and to recognize that, while his anger at the world is justified, he can continue to live as a blind person now that he is cancer-free. Isaac is deeply perceptive and sensitive, as his eulogy for Augustus demonstrates.
Peter Van Houten
Peter Van Houten...
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is a reclusive author living in the Netherlands. His sole novel,An Imperial Affliction, captivates both Hazel and Augustus. They are delighted when he offers to give them a tour of Amsterdam, but in the flesh, Van Houten proves an enormous disappointment. Constantly drinking Scotch, he is rude to his visitors, even suggesting that he had never expected them to respond positively to his invitation.
Later in the novel, it is revealed that Van Houten’s cruelty is derived from pain: his own daughter died from cancer. This goes some way toward helping Hazel understand Van Houten’s behavior, but she does not feel that it excuses it entirely. Van Houten provides an illustration of how not to behave after being touched by cancer. While his assistant, Lidewij, remains loyal to him, she is forced to pick up the pieces and comfort Augustus and Hazel, because it is clear that Van Houten can no longer handle the reality of terminally ill teenagers.
Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster
Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster are Hazel’s parents, and Hazel is particularly concerned about what will happen to them after she dies, even asking them to promise not to break up. Mrs. Lancaster is concerned that her daughter seems “depressed” and forces her to attend support groups and celebrations, hoping to ensure that Hazel derives as much joy as possible from a life that may be brief. What Hazel does not know is that her mother is studying social work with the goal of being a social worker; she is fearful of revealing this to Hazel in case it suggests that she is considering a future after Hazel has gone. However, Hazel is cheered by the discovery, taking comfort from it as an indication that her parents will be able to continue without her.
Hazel’s close friend, Kaitlyn acts as a sounding board for Hazel. It is often during phone conversations with Kaitlyn, in which Hazel feels free to be herself and confess her true thoughts, that she comes to important decisions about her relationship with Augustus.