The Fault in Our Stars | Study Guide

John Green

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The Fault in Our Stars | Chapter 8 | Summary

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Summary

The doctors tell Hazel and her parents the fluid buildup in Hazel's lungs is likely a side effect of Phalanxifor and not from the emergence of new tumors or an escalation of the cancer. Unfortunately, her doctors and parents determine it is probably not the right time for her to be traveling internationally. Back at home, she regrets she is not healthy enough to go to Amsterdam, wishing she could trade in the sick days she has left for a few healthy ones. She starts to weep looking at the swing set in the back yard her father built for her years before. Now it just looked sad and lonely out there with no kids to play on it (she has no siblings, either).

Gus calls. He comes over, and they talk about her sadness. He decides they should try to sell the swing set. They have some fun writing the headline for the ad. Hazels suggests: "Lonely, Vaguely Pedophilic Swing Set Seeks the Butts of Children." Gus says the reason he likes her is she's "a hot girl who creates an adjectival version of the word pedophile ... You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are." Hazel is so touched she finds it hard to breathe. He reads to her a little from An Imperial Affliction, and she thinks, "As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once." Soon after he sneaks a kiss on her cheek. Later she receives an email from Van Houten's assistant, Lidewij Vliegenthart, regarding Hazel's upcoming trip to Amsterdam. Confused, she calls for her mom who explains that along with Dr. Maria and her father, they all decided to allow her to go to Amsterdam. Hazel is thrilled.

Analysis

To Hazel, part of the magic of Augustus "Gus" Waters is that he takes what can seem like an uncontrollable situation and take charge of it, either metaphorically or physically. In this case, when Hazel is feeling helpless over her lack of ability to go to Amsterdam, he takes the one depressing issue at hand that can be controlled—finding the Desperately Lonely Swing Set a new home—and makes it his mission to remove this particular aspect of sadness from her life. Giving physicality to the problems that assault Hazel allows her some control over the problems that seem to have no solution—she wants to go to Amsterdam but is restricted by her health; she is being kept alive by Phalanxifor, but at the same time, she doesn't feel like she is actually living or experiencing her life. Gus helps her to get back some of that control. In part this is why going to Amsterdam is so important to her. Not only will it allow her to meet the author she sees as almost God-like, but also it will give her a sense of freedom from her illness that is lacking in her life.

Hazel's reaction to not being able to go to Amsterdam also emphasizes how important it is to her to know what happens to the characters after Anna's death at the end of An Imperial Affliction. After her doctors and parents refuse to let her go to Amsterdam, she falls into a deep depression not only because of her lack of freedom but also because she believes she will never know what happens to the rest of the characters in the novel. Knowing their fate after Anna's death is important to her because of the implications for her own family once Hazel dies. An Imperial Affliction is akin to a Bible to Hazel, and as such, it provides guidelines and rules for her life. She needs to know Anna's family was okay after her death because it will allow Hazel to believe her own family will be able to survive without her. By not being allowed to go to Amsterdam, she is denied the possibility of ever knowing her family will continue on without her.

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