The Fault in Our Stars | Study Guide

John Green

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The Fault in Our Stars | Chapter 18 | Summary



Hazel wakes up in the middle of the night to a phone call from Gus asking for her help. He is at a gas station, unable to get his medication into his G-tube, having driven out there in order to buy a package of cigarettes. Hazel drives out to him in the middle of the night, realizing as soon as she sees the G-tube that she has to call an ambulance despite Gus's insistence not to.

When the ambulance comes, she goes with him to the hospital, reciting William Carlos Williams's "The Red Wheelbarrow" in Gus's ear. She adds lines of her own when the poem ends.


This chapter represents the true loss of Gus's independence and the moment when he breaks. Hazel describes his behavior: "A pitiful boy who desperately wanted not to be pitiful, screaming and crying, poisoned by an infected G-tube that kept him alive, but not alive enough." Up to this point Gus has pretended there is something he could do that made a real difference, that there is yet something heroic he could still do to redeem himself in his own eyes. But he couldn't even buy a pack of cigarettes, a metaphor of his control over death, a control he can no longer pretend he has.

On the ride to the hospital, Hazel recites William Carlos Williams's poetry to Gus. Williams was an American poet who was also a doctor in his hometown of Rutherford, New Jersey. The uniqueness of Williams's writing is in the poet's ability to take the ordinary and make it seem extraordinary, a fitting commentary as Augustus struggles with his ability to even do simple tasks such as buy a package of cigarettes from a store. By adding lines about Gus to the poem, Hazel is saying that he too is not ordinary but is extraordinary to her even if he doesn't see it in himself.

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