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Headscratchers / The Fault in Our Stars

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  • Where was the rest of the North Central basketball team at the funeral?
    • Trust me, teammates =/= friends. Besides, they could've been there and Hazel just didn't deem them worth mentioning.
      • I know, teammates don't have to be friends but if the captain and best player die the whole team will come to the funeral or the coach will make them go.
  • The Big Damn Kiss scene in the Anne Frank house. What was the symbolism there, because I just didn't see it. Here they are, in the home where a young girl hid with her family from the Nazis, who died in the hands of the Nazis, and they're having their first make-out session in front of Anne's diary pages, and the video of her father talking, Not only that, but everyone applauds this rather than act out in horror and outrage. What was the point? All I saw was them being very disrespectful to the memory of Anne Frank.
    • John seems to agree with Hazel's viewpoint: "'Augustus Waters,' I said, looking up at him, thinking that you cannot kiss anyone in the Anne Frank House, and then thinking that Anne Frank, after all, kissed someone in the Anne Frank House and that she would probably like nothing more than for her home to have become a place where the young and irreparably broken sink into love." Much of the book focuses on how it's wrong to romanticize the dying and the dead, that doomed people experience love and desire and the entire spectrum of human emotion. Pointing out that Anne Frank herself made out in the Anne Frank house mirrors Hazel and Augustus' story, it's the idea that one shouldn't have this sterilized view of ill/doomed people, that kids who died of cancer or in the Holocaust or what have you were still ultimately kids. John states on his Tumblr: "It’s a sacred space, but it’s important to remember that real people lived there. Our usual way of honoring the dead–by freezing them in time and mythologizing them, by building the marble statues Shakespeare rails against in that sonnet–that’s not Hazel and Augustus’s way of honoring the dead. As Hazel notes, Anne Frank made out with a boy in the Anne Frank house. I think Hazel wants (and I wanted) to reclaim that sacred space for doomed people who are nonetheless still alive, and still full of desire."
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    • (original OP) Ah, OK, OK. So what you're saying is that in our attempts to immortalize someone, we rob them of their humanity; what made them the person they were when they were alive. We forget who they once were. Anne was a kid, and she would not have cared one iota if the pair made out in that house. She did it herself once. Thanks for clarifying. :) Sorry, misunderstood that scene.
    • Also, everyone in the attic just watched Gus help Hazel struggle up the ladder.
  • I don't get why they were so keen on getting the ending to An Imperial Affliction. If the book stops right in the middle of a sentence, then surely that's got to be part of the intended effect? The impression I'm getting is that the book isn't like some Agatha Christie mystery novel that's got the last chapter removed so that you never get to know whodunnit; rather, it's a genuinely fascinating story that isn't about getting questions and later learning their answer. What I'm trying to say is that it doesn't seem as if Green can make up his mind about what book it is: 1. Either it's a "mystery that lacks the last chapter," that is, a story that's a disappointment and that you won't want to read again because it gives no closure. 2. Or it's a literary novel that makes for satisfying reading even though you don't get to know the truth about the Dutch Tulipman and Sisyphus the Hamster and all that jazz. But it makes no sense to me that Hazel, who enjoyed the book that much, would want to ruin its theme and intentions by getting answers to questions she knows aren't meant to be answered.
    • I saw it as Hazel desperately wants to know what happened to all these characters after the book ended because the same thing is happening to her. She wants to know that a family can still be okay and still have a life after losing a child to cancer.
    • It can be intentional and still be very unsatisfying, they aren't mutually exclusive. An ambiguous ending like that (ending in the middle of a scene, basically) is generally disliked and seen as lazy by a large portion of both readers and writers. It's both incredibly cliched, and never as good as the author thinks it reads. It could also be that it wasn't a particularly literary novel for most of its length, and then it swerved into another direction for the ending.
  • How is it possible for Hazel to be taking college-level courses at age sixteen when she's had cancer for three years? Having cancer and undergoing treatment for it makes it incredibly difficult for a person to keep up with the people in their own class, let alone take college courses way ahead of them. Also, how is it possible for her to read the novel Gus told her to read in just two hours? I know Mary Sues has abilities beyond the rest of us but isn't all this stretching it a few miles past believability?
    • I have no answer for the first question. Concerning the second one, some people can read ridiculously fast. A friend of mine read the entire Dolores Clairborne in just an evening. Somebody reading faster than that isn't impossible, though it is remarkable that nobody comments on it.
    • My suggested answer for the first would be "Cancer perks." As for the second, while An Imperial Affliction is a Door Stopper, the novel that Gus wanted Hazel to read was a churned-out, pulpy action yarn, and probably not more than a couple of hundred pages. Also, Hazel isn't a Mary Sue.
      • Gus' book had 284 pages. Taking into account that Hazel, when she sits down to read it, has been walking around a bit at the mall and therefore ought to be utterly exhausted (I've known several people who needed oxygen to help them breathe, and every single one of them got exhausted from doing the dishes or walking to the mailbox due to their oxygen levels and the status of their lungs) I simply do not buy that she could finish the book in question that fast. She would have had to read more than two pages per minute, and doing so while exhausted. To each their own, but that goes far beyond how far I can willingly (or otherwise) suspend disbelief. Also, I most definitely found Hazel to be a Mary Sue. Your mileage might have to vary on that one.
      • I checked the page history and found that you put this entry in 2016. I'm relatively new to TV Tropes, so maybe you didn't consider "Mary Sue" to be Flame Bait back then? Regardless, under the current rules, we deem "Mary Sue" as unhelpful and degrading in a conversation, so consider this a late acknowledgment. Dismissing someone with "your mileage might have to vary on that one" is a thought-terminating cliche. Furthermore, as someone who reads a lot of books, I've flipped through books of comparable length while exhausted at more than five pages per minute. I can finish any book that isn't a ridiculous Doorstopper in under an hour, so please don't underestimate just how fast some people can read.
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    • Considering that Hazel has already been withdrawn from regular high school, University courses are probably something her parents put her into to provide her with some normalcy, with some structure to her life, and with something to do. So whether she is learning 100% of the material is a secondary matter.
      • To go along with this, Hazel mentions that she only has 3 classes a week. Based on the courses she's taking we can assume they're 1-3 unit courses which translate to at most 9 units for the semester, which isn't even considered full time. Therefore it's not impossible to think she can keep up with it.
      • Is it possible to take university courses in the United States without having completed the requirements to get into the university in question? I'm saying this as a non-US citizen so I don't know how it actually works, but it seems logical that colleges in the States should require a high school education to qualify, and simply having cancer would not be enough to get allowed to take courses when you aren't eligible for them. Cancer Perks only stretch so far.
      • Hazel already got a GED, presumably when she was 14 or 15 as a result of homeschooling, which is why she's in college classes now. She could easily keep up with online work while in treatment during the times that she felt well enough. She's taking classes at a community college, not some big prestigious university. Also, some states have laws allowing high school students to take college classes, so even without a GED, she was probably fine. As for reading a 200-page pulp novel in two hours, absolutely doable. Hazel reads a lot, especially because it's a good way to entertain herself while sick. Hang out around profoundly gifted teenagers sometimes, you'll see.
      • It does seem highly improbable though for a teenager struggling with cancer. Children are highly affected by cancer treatments, and the ability to concentrate and even the ability to assimilate new knowledge tends to be affected. It's one of the things that makes cancer so tragic for a child - not only might they die, but the price of the treatments to cure the illness or at least prolong life is very high. It's a constant moving of goalposts of what is an acceptable side-effect of the treatments. Hazel claims she spent basically a whole year in intensive care (presumably she didn't mean that literally but she obviously means she was very sick at that point), but we're supposed to believe that she was able to get her GED ahead of her classmates? Considering how sick she would have been at that time it seems absurd that she could have studied so hard, especially when taking into consideration the side effects of her treatment. To also be able to read a book that fast when she is exhausted and oxygen-deprived seems very improbable.
      • To add, most North American universities and colleges allow people who are not formally enrolled to take a small number of courses (without bothering to ask for proof of pre-requisites)—these courses are usually taken by keen high-schoolers who want a challenge or a leg up in their future university career, or by adults who want to satisfy their need to learn.
  • John Green has openly stated that he gave Hazel thyroid cancer because Esther, the girl the book is dedicated to, had it. He has also stated that he wanted her to have tumors in her lungs to have a water metaphor. Thus, she got thyroid cancer that had spread to her lungs. What makes me scratch my head is the fact that Hazel is dying of thyroid cancer that appears to be almost completely symptom-free. Thyroid cancer tends to present with lumps on the throat, which in later stages become painful, and it can affect the voice. It also tends to have a hormonal effect, as the thyroid is an important hormonal gland. These symptoms aren't always all there, but it strikes me as weird that she doesn't seem to have a single one, and all the focus is on her lungs. But the real question I have is why Green didn't include any of these symptoms. There is a lot of interesting drama, not to mention insight, that can be drawn from having his teenaged main character struggle with the hormonal problems that can come with thyroid cancer, and dealing with her voice not being what she is used to it being, and the lumps on her neck, or the swelling, affecting the way she feels about herself and her body. It seems like a huge amount of wasted opportunity, and something that teenagers struggling with this disease might have appreciated having highlighted. And if Green didn't want to deal with any of the symptoms that come along with the disease, why not just give her lung cancer and leave it at that?
  • Why is Hazel so dismissive of nurses? I realize this happens a lot in real life, but usually among people who don't realize all the work nurses do and how important they are. Hazel, of all people, should know.
    • John Green just wanted Hazel to be snarky and "different" from stereotypical cancer patients. I've never read a cliche "cancer book" but I guess that nurses are portrayed as human angels and the patients are really thankful for having them around. Hazel was supposed to be "different" and maybe John Green was trying too hard.