The Fault in Our Stars | Study Guide

John Green

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The Fault in Our Stars | Chapter 23 | Summary



A couple of days following the funeral, Hazel arrives at Isaac's house, and they play a video game and discuss Gus. Isaac tells her Gus had apparently been writing something for her right after they returned from Amsterdam. She decides to go over to Gus's house to look for it, and on the way there, she discovers Van Houten in the back seat of her family's minivan, which she is driving. She listens to his attempts at apology and find out the character Anna in the book is based on Van Houten's daughter, who died very young with leukemia. Her death continues to cause him great pain, anger, and bitterness. She tells him to stop drinking and get back to writing, then kicks him out of her car and leaves him sitting on the curb sipping whiskey from a small bottle. She winds up at Gus's home and searches for his last words but is unable to find them.


Hazel learns Van Houten's novel is not really about the character Anna, but about his daughter. His insight into living with cancer and experience of going through the ordeal came from personal experience. The experience left him devastated, alone, and horribly depressed. He put himself into an alcoholic oblivion that he was unable to claw himself out of. Hazel realizes she is no longer desperate for the sequel to the novel she once yearned for; the sequel is sitting in the back seat of the minivan smelling of booze. To Hazel, this is almost more devastating than never finding out the ending at all because it implies that Van Houten was utterly ruined by the death of his daughter. Hazel realizes that An Imperial Affliction is Van Houten's attempt to write a second life for his daughter. Van Houten fell into such a state of alcoholism and depression because he was unable to give her that second life. In a similar way, Hazel's own search for Augustus's last words are an attempt to give him a second life. Similarly to Van Houten's reaction to his daughter, Hazel is seemingly wreaked by Gus's death, wrapping herself in his bed and clothing one last time before she leaves his house. The difference in Hazel's reaction to Gus's death is that Hazel will ultimately choose to move on with her life.

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