The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Contributed by Margherita Wickersham
Chapter 5
Summary

Gus and Hazel have a discussion on the book, An Imperial Affliction. In addition, Gus brings the news of his contact with the book’s author, Van Houten, a withdrawn individual living in Amsterdam. After giving Hazel the email, she decides to write to the author with the various questions she has on the novel. Later, she receives an email from Peter indicating that Van Houten can only answer the questions in person.

Despite the offer, Hazel cannot ask her parents to fund the trip to Amsterdam considering the amount of money they have already spent on her. Luckily, Gus comes to Hazel's home a day later and takes her to a Dutch-made sculpture, for a Dutch-inspired picnic. During the picnic, he tells her about his decision to use his wish from the Genie Foundation to visit the author in Amsterdam. The foundation always grants the desires of children living with life-threatening illnesses, and Gus asks Hazel to accompany him on the trip. This decision overjoys Hazel; however, she gets worried about the increased pressure she experiences in her lungs in addition to the developing pain in her shoulder. Nonetheless, she comforts herself, as she clearly knows that the PET scan will take place in a few weeks.

Analysis

Green uses this chapter to show the importance of love in the lives of people. For instance, he talks about the pain felt by Isaac after Monica dumps him. This is made clear when Hazel seeks to find out Isaac’s reasons for obsessing over Monica. In response, Isaac expresses his belief in true love, claiming that everybody should have a true love that should last at least for one’s lifetime. On her part, Hazel continues to struggle with her intentions to embrace fully her friendship with Gus. Personally, she worries about her imminent death and the possibility of hurting those close to her, especially Gus. Nonetheless, the author shows the feelings held by Gus towards Hazel, as he uses his wish to help her visit Amsterdam and meet the writer of her favorite book.

There is also worry by Hazel as she remembers the lack of enthusiasm in Van Houten’s emails. This is because the emails show that the author has no excitement or willingness to answer her questions fully. Nevertheless, Hazel maintains her strength and optimism by even ignoring the physical pain she experiences in her lungs and shoulder. This decision is a clear indicator of a coping strategy that prevails in different individuals during various illnesses. In his work, Green tries to shed light on the experiences undergone by cancer patients, yet minimizing the focus on the disease as a defining element in people. The author is able to pass his message effectively by using the empathy and strength of Hazel.

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