The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Contributed by Margherita Wickersham
Chapter 3

Hazel reads The Price of Dawn until late in the evening. The next morning, she is woken up by her mother, who jubilantly announces to her that it is her thirty-third “half-birthday” (Green 17). To Hazel, the attempts of her mother to imbue all possible holidays with meaning is just a side-effect of her cancer. She, however, ignores this feeling and humors her. Hazel also contacts Kaitlyn, her old high school friend. During this day, all that Hazel wants is to stay at home and watch her shows on television. However, her mother convinces her to meet up with Kaitlyn, whom they decide to meet at the mall.

While at the mall, Kaitlyn tells Hazel all the gossip, but Hazel is struggling to find new news that is not cancer-related. She decides to excuse herself early, and instead of contacting her mother to pick her from the mall, she chooses to sit alone and read. While sitting there, she is approached by a young girl named Jackie, who inquires about the tube she has in her nose. Hazel explains to the young girl that the tube is called a cannula, and it connects to the oxygen tank she carries, where its purpose is to help her breathe. She also allows Jackie to try the tube on before her mother approaches and apologetically takes Jackie away (Green 18-19). Following this, Hazel begins reflecting on the young girl’s innocence, contrasting the normalcy she saw in her in the short interaction they had with her strained interaction with Kaitlyn.


In this chapter, the sense of “otherness,” which defines cancer patients in society, is established. Cancer is a meaningful way through which other people in society identify Hazel and Augustus. It also shows by how people interact with either of them. For example, Hazel’s mother insists on celebrating her thirty-third “half birthday”. For typically-healthy teenagers, half-birthdays are not a cause for celebration. The emphasis that Hazel’s mother places on the event suggests that Hazel needs to be treated differently just because she is a cancer patient.

In addition to her mother, Kaitlyn fails to provide Hazel with the sense of normalcy she is looking for. Even though she enjoys her company, Hazel feels disconnected from her as well as the people she talks about from their old high school. To Hazel, people do not know how to interact with her; they feel unsettled and awkward. But her interactions with Isaac and Augustus, and her short interaction with Jackie, are the most natural and relaxed interactions up to this point.

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