The Fault in Our Stars | Study Guide

John Green

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The Fault in Our Stars | Chapter 3 | Summary



Hazel stays up finishing The Price of Dawn and is woken by her mother the next morning to the news it is her 33rd "half-birthday." Hazel feels her mother's attempts to imbue all potential holidays with meaning is merely a side effect of her cancer; however, she humors her mother and contacts her old high school friend Kaitlyn. All Hazel would like to do is stay home and watch her television shows, but her mother convinces her to meet up with Kaitlyn.

They decide to meet at the mall to go shopping and catch up. Kaitlyn relays all of the gossip while Hazel struggles to find new, non-cancer-related news. Hazel excuses herself early and decides, rather than contact her mother to come get her, she'd rather sit alone and read. While she is sitting there, a small girl, Jackie, comes over, asking unabashedly about Hazel's cannula, a pair of small tubes attached to her nose so she can attach containers and receive oxygen. Jackie's mother stands awkwardly back. Hazel explains and puts the cannula in Jackie's nose so the girl can try it until the lack of oxygen starts to become too difficult for Hazel. She takes the cannula back and Jackie runs off.


While Hazel enjoys Kaitlyn's company, she feels disconnected from her and the people Kaitlyn talks about from their old high school. Hazel feels people don't know how to interact with her. People feel awkward and unsettled around her. Aside from her interactions with Gus and Isaac, her interactions with Jackie, a little girl, are the most normal and relaxed up to this point.

Hazel feels as if the entire day was spent trying but failing to interact normally. Neither Hazel nor Kaitlyn are entirely sure how to interact. When talk comes up about shoes, Kaitlyn freezes after she says, "Is it even possible to walk in these? I mean I would just die." Bringing up death, even as part of an ordinary expression, is awkward around a person with severe cancer. Hazel tries to shop but quickly tires and sits down to read, looking up occasionally to comment on an outfit Kaitlyn wishes to show her. It is clear that while Hazel doesn't want to be treated as if she doesn't have cancer, she wishes it could just be acknowledged and accepted as a part of her without being the defining characteristic everyone has on their mind. Her day spent with Kaitlyn is in sharp contrast with her interactions with Gus.

Even her mother, who she loves, fails to provide the sense of normality that Hazel is looking for. She feels as if her mother is constantly hovering over her, being overprotective, and it weighs on Hazel. She feels as if she is her mother's entire reason for living, and it feeds into her current mindset that her existence and eventual death cause nothing but pain for the people around her.

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