The Theme, Message, Humor and Setting of The Fault in Our Stars, a Novel by John Green

Protagonist Hazel Grace, lung cancer afflicted teenager, encounters cancer survivor Augustus Waters in a cancer support group. Mutual romantic interest ensues, with the duo engaging in pseudo-intellectual literary and philosophical conversation centered on a fictitious novel by the name of ‘An Imperial Affliction’. Both characters relate deeply to the novel. The novel ends midsentence in an open ending, leaving Hazel restless for more. The duo attempt to track down the author, and succeed in doing so, but are left disappointed as he turns out to be an incoherent drunk. Their journey results in further romantic development, as well as Augustus revealing the reoccurrence of cancer within him. He subsequently dies, writing an ending to the novel in his final days.

The novels end with Hazel reading Augustus’ ending to An Imperial Affliction, pondering life. The overall theme, message, humor and setting. One has to ponder the composition of the novel; cancer—ridden main characters, pompous pseudo-intellectual language, philosophical musings and dark humor. What does author John Green seek to illustrate by combining these? In the case of pompous pseudo-intellectual language, I would argue that it detracts from the novel. It reads as filler fluff, an elementary school student’s clumsy attempt at elevating his writing piece by injecting overly abstract and pompous wording.

It pains the eyes to have to wade through lines upon lines of obnoxious dialogue whose self-congratulatory articulation screams ‘I’m so clever!’. It would be excusable if the main characters were adults. They are not, though a they are teenagers and, seemingly, they spend their time combing through Oxford dictionaries in a holy quest for achieving the most obnoxious dialogue imaginable. Some people happen to enjoy this type of literary muscle flexing. It is tolerable in smaller segments, but not when the book itself is synonymous to ‘lam very smart’-writing. It is droll, and detracts from the overall work. It hurts the immersion of the story, and its tactless lack of class diminishes the philosophical aspect of the novel that serves as a metaphor for life.

Because that is what it is»— an anecdote, a metaphor, of harsh realities and the struggle of merely being allowed to breathe oxygen. It highlights that we cannot change the cards that we have been dealt in life, but we can choose how we play them. What better way to showcase this than through cancer patients? Their untimely demise is a given, so they might as well make the best of it. They feel the tick of the reaper’s clock while most of us choose to ignore it. The protagonist, Hazel, learns to appreciate life, despite the unfortunate straws that she was dealt. The story details how two lonely souls work past the misery of their realities to make the best of their time. They become desensitized to the world surrounding them and create a bubble reality in which they find happiness.

They indulge in fantasy and each other’s company, and attain a sense of fulfillment, unlike their previous melancholic existence. This is showcased in the closing lines of the book, where Augustus’ musings are posthumously revealed: “You don‘t get to choose ifyou get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. ” The quote refers to occurrences outside of one’s control, in the context of the novel, cancer. In the second part, it speaks of one’s ability to act independently, regardless of what life throws at you. He concludes that he lived life to the best of his ability. John Green employs dark humor, as befitting of the cancer-teenagers-with-affected-families setting. It displays the desensitized mentality of the characters and underlines the character development that leads to a contrast in attitudes between the start and end of the novel.

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