Philosophy of Life in The Fault in Our Stars

“Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death” (Green 310). This quote comes from Augustus Waters in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, a young man who is faced with the ticking clock of death from the time he is just a kid.

Most people are scared of death, and for good reason, but once a person has known of their impending mortality for a while, especially due to a terminal illness, they have to get used to it and come to terms with it.

Augustus is talking about his dear friend Hazel, who is the protagonist, and he knows that the connection they have is partly because they both have a life threatening illness and they come have come to accept the fact that their lives are very fragile. In John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel Grace Lancaster’s philosophy of life is that everyday is a gift, and it should be treated as such, because “there’s no way of knowing that your last good day is your last good day”(Green 253).

Hazel’s philosophy of life

First off, the novel starts with the main character Hazel, a sixteen year old who had Stage IV thyroid cancer, who goes to a support group that she absolutely hates going to, because it makes her depressed about her illness, One day at the group, she sees a boy her age who was staring at her “relentlessly” (Green 24). She ends up talking to this this boy named Augustus, who had osteosarcoma, and they become friends and talk about their personal stories.

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They decide to read each other’s favorite books. Hazel’s favorite book is An Imperial Affliction, and Augustus’s is The Price of Dawn. They enjoy each other’s books but An Imperial Affliction is the one that is exceptional to both of them. It is a book about a girl who has cancer named Anna, and the book ends mid-sentence, which is annoying to Hazel, but she loves it so much because it is the only book that seems to understand what it means to have cancer. Hazel and Augustus end up bonding over the book, and Augustus ends up finding out the email address of the assistant to the author of the book, Peter Van Houten. The two kids want to know what happens to the characters of the book, and they email the assistant. They get a response that he can only tell them what happens if they see him in person, in Amsterdam where he lives. Later, Augustus reveals that he has a wish from a foundation like Make-a-Wish, and that he wants to take the two of them to Amsterdam. They end up going to Amsterdam to see Van Houten. The whole thing seems like a dream, until they actually meet the author, who is a terrible guy who won’t answer their questions about the book, and is clearly drunk. Even though this disappoints them, this is not the worst news that is received on the trip. Hazel learns from Augustus that his cancer came back, and that it metastasized everywhere in his body. Augustus dies a little over a month after they get back from Amsterdam. After Augustus’s funeral, Van Houten sends her a letter that Augustus sent to him, which has to do with how much Augustus loved Hazel, and how he came to terms with his own death. He said that he “liked his choices”(Green 406) that he made in his life. The book ends with Hazel saying that she likes her choices as well to herself.

Under those circumstances, Hazel’s philosophy of life is not to make anything seem sugar coated or to romanticize almost anything. She knows the unfortunate truths of this world. She says right off in the beginning that “there will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species did anything”(Green 28). This very pessimistic look at life, but it is something that she already has come to terms with at a very young age. It would be something that she would call a “side effect of dying”(Green 16). This doesn’t stop her from doing what she wants though. In her life, she doesn’t waste a day doing something she doesn’t want to do.

Furthermore, Hazel understands what makes a bad life, but she also knows what makes a “good life”. Hazel knows that her life situation of being so terminally ill is very unfortunate, but she knows that “there is only one thing worse that biting it from cancer when you’re sixteen, and that’s having a kid who bites it from cancer”(Green 22), referring to the fact that having your child die is worse than dying yourself. She has a great deal of sympathy, and that helps her in her relationship with Augustus. For Hazel, the good life is all about making everyone around her happy and not ruin everybody else’s life. That is evident with her parents, but also with her romantic interest, Augustus. She goes as far as to say that dating is a “huge waste of time”(Green 137) and she says about herself, “I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties”(Green 137). She knows that she isn’t going to live much longer, and she doesn’t want to hurt anybody, but most of all she fears that she is being a burden to the people around her. This makes her treat people very well, because she knows that her time on this Earth isn’t very long. Hazel also wants to be loved, just like everybody else. She clearly enjoys the attention that Augustus gives her. When she was with him, she felt as if she had all the time in the world, she says, “You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful”(Green 339). Her biggest dream is achieved with Augustus, because he loves her so much that he was willing to give up his only wish for her to meet the author of her favorite book ever. Her “good life” is about spending time with the one person that she has really connected with, which is what Augustus wants as well. He says to Hazel after she asks him why he would give up his wish, and he says it’s because he “found his wish”(Green 126), obviously referring to Hazel being his wish. Hazel wants to live a good life because she has a limited amount of time to live.

Also, the way that she view the human person has to do with her circumstances of being sick, and it reflects her philosophy of life, being that living life to the fullest is important because the next day, you could be gone. She believes in this so much because she really doesn’t believe that there is more after this world. She says when Augustus asks her if she thinks there is an afterlife, “I think forever is an incorrect concept”(Green 221), and she says to the reader that she “associated belief in heaven with a kind of intellectual disengagement”(Green 222). With this lack of faith in anything more than this world, she finds the earthly world to be so much more important than anything else. This view is particularly important in her situation because she knows of her impending mortality, and she believes that after her life, there is nothingness. What is most important to her is just living her life and not hurting the world. Augustus says, “Hazel knows the truth;We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it,”(Green 404). That is all that she really cares about.

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Philosophy of Life in The Fault in Our Stars. (2022, Feb 06). Retrieved from

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