The Fault in Our Stars | Study Guide

John Green

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The Fault in Our Stars | Chapter 4 | Summary



Hazel rereads An Imperial Affliction. It is a book about Anna, a girl with blood cancer, but rather than being about having cancer the book is about living with it and the oblivion of death. She remembers her promise to call Gus after finishing his book and texts him. They talk, but she refuses to talk more until he finishes An Imperial Affliction. She goes to a movie with her mother, and by the time they are out of the cinema she has four new texts from Gus asking about the end of the book. She gives him a call to talk about the book, but in the background she hears Isaac wailing. Gus asks if she can come over and talk and she does.

Gus, Hazel, and Isaac sit and talk in Gus's basement. Isaac is hurting and angry because his girlfriend has left him because she is unable to deal with his impending blindness. He and Gus are playing Counterinsurgence 2: The Price of Dawn, before rage sets in and he starts smashing things around him. Gus hands Isaac his basketball trophies to smash, telling Hazel he'd been trying to find a way to tell his father he disliked basketball, and together they watch as Isaac gives into the pain and rage.


Hazel's appreciation for An Imperial Affliction is in part due to the connection she feels with Anna. Like Anna, Hazel doesn't deny her cancer and also does not think or feel cancer defines her. Isaac echoes this sentiment later in the chapter. He struggles to understand how his girlfriend was willing to date a one-eyed guy, but not a guy who is totally blind. He protests that "I'm about to lose my eyesight and she can't handle it." When Hazel comes over to help, Gus asks if she has any words for Isaac, but she declines, arguing his "response is probably appropriate." Gus quotes back to her from An Imperial Affliction: "Pain demands to be felt."

In contrast, Cindy Waters, Gus's mom, left the house to get away from the wailing sounds of Isaac's crying down in the basement. Mark Waters, Gus's father, remained upstairs during the ordeal. They are both unable to handle the reality of Isaac's pain and unsure what they can do to lessen it. Despite what their encouragements suggest, Isaac's reaction reveals that no one can always remain strong in the face of cancer.

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