“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
Hazel, usually incredibly rational for an adolescent, especially in the case of fending off Augustus's romantic advances, thinks this when Augustus reads to her from her favorite book after placing the post about the swing set. Hazel is not completely sold, however, keeping her love secret from Gus and denying him both a kiss in the park and a return "I love you" on the airplane to Amsterdam. This internal conflict between love and safety is turned on its head when Augustus becomes sick, and Hazel eventually realizes that it may be better to allow oneself to fall into love, like in this quote, even at the chance (or certainty) of being hurt.
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
The nature of books themselves is major theme in The Fault in Our Stars, giving the book a meta-fictional sense. Based on the rave reviews Green's book has received, The Fault in Our Stars may be one such book that causes love and evangelism. Depicting Hazel as a devoted reader also makes the book's reader feel akin to her, an important quality to establish early on in a book for young adult audiences, especially one about a subject that will likely be beyond many readers' capacity for empathy.
"I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
Unlike Hazel, Augustus is not sparing in bold quotes about falling in love. Augustus toes the line of not denying himself simple pleasures, saying it about looking at beautiful things and now about saying true things. This attitude goes hand in hand with his desire to accomplish things, both corresponding with the 2010s teenager motto that "you only live once [YOLO]."
“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.”
Hazel draws inspiration for the eulogy she gives at Augustus's pre-funeral from Peter Van Houten's upsetting lecture to them at their disastrous meeting in Amsterdam. The fact that she has thought over this concept and makes it her own in the eulogy shows real maturity, and the concept itself is important for her ability to both love Augustus at that moment and move on after his death.
“The world is not a wish-granting factory.”
Hazel, Augustus, and Peter Van Houten say this throughout the book. It may be assumed that Van Houten actually wrote it first in An Imperial Affliction, and it spread that way to Hazel and then to Augustus. The phrase is used at times combatively, but mostly as a phrase of acceptance; cancer, especially when surrounded by love and necessary resources, is not the worst possible thing -- and even if it were, that would only support the idea that the world does not care about individual feelings, nor is it always fair.
“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 ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”
These are the first words Hazel says to Augustus, delivering them as a kind of sermon in Support Group and wowing him from the get-go. This sets their romantic path for the rest of the book as grittily realistic and yet wittily philosophical (and somewhat verbose). Hazel hits the nail on the head in sussing out Augustus's biggest fear, and though she can never fully break him of a desire to make a mark, she is able to better think through her own views on the issue throughout the novel.
“Without pain, how could we know joy?' This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.”
This concept, that there cannot be pain without joy (or can there?), is brought up multiple times in the story. Notably, though Hazel undermines the concept in this quote, she endorses it in her real eulogy for Augustus, explaining that funerals are for the living and that this concept can be very comforting to his family and others. Whether she actually believes it by the end is unclear, but perhaps her relationship with Gus and realizations about her parents' feelings for her complicate her beliefs about the intermingling of pain and joy.
“Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.)”
Both Hazel and Peter Van Houten consider cancer, and people with cancer, side effects. This particular thoughtful and darkly humorous quote makes up the second paragraph of the novel and sets the tone of Hazel's narration for the remainder of the book.
“But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.”
Van Houten follows this by saying, "Easy enough to say when you're a Roman nobleman (or Shakespeare!), but there is no shortage of fault to be found amid our stars." The theme Green calls out in Van Houten's first return letter to Augustus is a lack of agency. Though Cassius seems to say that the problem is not fate but within oneself, van Houten argues that that is easy to say when one is privileged but is manifestly untrue when one lives through true adversity. Green's title, then, calls out this theme directly, both the romance of star crossed lovers and the inability to steer their lives individually and together to be what they would have wanted.
“Much of my life had been devoted to trying not to cry in front of people who loved me, so I knew what Augustus was doing. You clench your teeth. You look up. You tell yourself that if they see you cry, it will hurt them, and you will be nothing but a Sadness in their lives, and you must not become a mere sadness, so you will not cry, and you say all of this to yourself while looking up at the ceiling, and then you swallow even though your throat does not want to close and you look at the person who loves you and smile.”
This quote is representative of the imagery - and emotion-laden writing - Green features throughout the book. Hazel has had to deal with more than the typical adolescent's fair share of pain and tears, and through her hardships she has developed the ability to protect and distance herself from sadness; and, if that fails, she attempts to hide her feelings so as not to hurt others (perhaps her greatest fear). Seeing Gus go through these same motions, Hazel feels true empathy for him, just at the moment the plot turns itself upside-down and Gus takes on the role of the sick "grenade."
The Fault in Our Stars Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Fault in Our Stars is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.