Symbolism In The Fault In Our Stars

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The title of this book was thought of from a quote from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, where Cassius says ‘The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.’ Cassius is saying that fate is not what dooms us, but people are the fault for their wrongdoings. The Fault in Our Stars is about a young girl named Hazel Grace Lancaster who has been diagnosed with stage four Thyroid cancer with metastasis forming in her lungs. In the book ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ John Green uses symbolism, metaphors, and similes to give an underlying theme of life, consciousness, and existence, showing that all things must eventually come to an end.

A very vocalized point of The Fault in Our Stars is the symbolism, it shows up everywhere. It shows up from An Imperial Affliction to Hazel comparing herself to a grenade. An Imperial Affliction plays a huge role in The Fault in Our Stars. It is what brought Hazel closer to Gus but also brought them to Amsterdam and what carries the story throughout the book. This book was written by Peter Van Houten and the main point of the book is that it’s not complete because the story is told in the first person, and the main character Anna dies of cancer, this book doesn’t exist outside The Fault in Our Stars. Hazel is obsessed with this book because it is about a girl with cancer and she can relate and empathize, she also likes it because Anna doesn’t let herself be defined by her cancer. Furthermore, some of what draws Hazel (and Augustus) back in is the brutal lack of ending, demonstrating their reasonable mutual interest in childhood death and what happens after for the child and especially the world around them.

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Another thing symbolized in The Fault in Our Stars is Gus’s cigarettes. He would often put them in his mouth but never use them, he did this in an attempt to control things he fears he can’t. “They don’t kill you unless you light them,” he said as Mom arrived at the curb. “And I’ve never lit one. It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” (Green 20) Later in the book when Gus is at a gas station and tries to buy himself a pack of cigarettes, at this point, he is very far in his osteosarcoma (Osteosarcoma is a type of cancer that produces immature bone. It is the most common type of cancer that arises in bones) and it was affecting his whole body and is unable to buy the pack of cigarettes, represents that Gus has lost control over his fears, another one of Gus’s fears is oblivion, so if he thinks that he can’t control his fears, he knows that he can’t control the fact of oblivion.

Then comes the grenades, it symbolizes the death and suffering a person’s death causes to those close to them. This plays a few roles within the story, the most important part is Hazel comparing herself to one, ‘I’m a grenade and at some point, I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?’ (Green 99) this shows from how little of an impact she wants to have on the people around her, she even explains to her parents how she doesn’t want to get close to Gus in fear of hurting him when she eventually dies. Gus also has some symbolism with grenades. When Gus and Issac were playing a video game, Gus would always throw himself on top of the grenade to save the children. Gus wants the feeling that he will be remembered by the people around him. Gus eventually is the grenade of the story and dies before Hazel.

Then there were the metaphors. Metaphors are very common in this book, they show up often and everywhere. Within the first few pages of the book when the main character Augustus Waters shows up the first few things he says is “I’m on a rollercoaster that only goes up” (Green 11) Gus stays upbeat about his diagnosis, both when he is NED (No Evidence of Disease) and when he is re-diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Rather than see his life go in a downward spiral, he somewhat sarcastically creates an image of his life going up and up.

Later in the book when Hazel and Gus are in Amsterdam, they are out at a fancy dinner at Oranjee, Hazel says ‘The sun was a toddler insistently refusing to go to bed: It was past eight thirty and still light.’ (p.167) This is a good metaphor to show the youthful and intelligent voice Green writes for Hazel. She is someone who notices things, and appreciates them.

Within the first few pages of the book, when Hazel goes to support group for the first time she meets Iasaac and her first reaction to him was the his eyes were ‘…preternaturally huge, like his whole head was basically just his fake eye and this real eye staring at you’ (Green 6) just like Hazel at the airport with her oxygen tank drawing stares from the people around her, corrections for people’s illness draw even more attention to them. This is brought to more attention with Iasaac’s glasses which, compensation for his failing vision, drawers even more attention to his eyes and especially his fake eye, as if it’s encompassing the entire thing.  


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