The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars Summary and Analysis of Chapters 16-20


In Chapter 16, Hazel gives the reader a run-down of "a typical day with late-stage Gus" (p.234). Gus tells Hazel that he is trying to write her a sequel to An Imperial Affliction, but most of his days and nights are devoted to eating (often throwing up his food) and sleeping. They lie in bed together and play video games until nighttime, at which time Hazel goes home to return the next afternoon.

On a morning about a month after they return from Amsterdam, Hazel arrives at Gus's house to find him still in bed, mumbling and having wet himself in the night. Hazel retreats upstairs, letting his parents deal with the mess, and only comes back downstairs when he's waking up. They play video games together, neither paying much attention, until Gus brings up having wet the bed. Though Hazel says it's no big deal, both can tell that something is different. After a length of awkwardness, Gus brings up the fact that he always wanted to have a special obituary in the newspapers when he died. This angers Hazel and she tells him that she feels like she can never be enough for him, bluntly adding that he is never going to accomplish those crazy things he wants to be remembered for.

Sometime in the next few days, Hazel gets a call from Augustus in the middle of the night. She is terrified that it will be that he has died but when she answers it's his voice. Gus is stranded at a gas station he snuck out to and did something wrong with his G-tube. Hazel leaves for him, jotting a note to her parents, and when she pulls up she finds him covered in vomit, hands pressed to his red, infected-looking stomach where his G-tube attaches. He confesses that he went out to buy a pack of cigarettes, more to prove he can do something for himself than anything else. Hazel apologizes to him and then calls 911. While they wait, Gus cries, hitting the steering wheel and moaning that he is disgusted with himself. Hazel grabs him and attempts to comfort him with reality, telling him that there are no bad guys in life, not even cancer. She recites another poem for him and when it ends too soon she continues it with her own words, making the poem about their lives and thoughts.

Hazel continues seeing Gus every day as he comes home from the hospital visit after the gas station incident and begins taking more and more medication, staying in bed and feeling a complete lack of dignity. His sisters come to stay with their husbands and children. Hazel meets these children who seem to have a tenuous grasp on Gus's condition and his sisters who speak to him in strange babying voices. They take Gus outside and Hazel attempts to temper the well-meaning talk of the sisters and husbands with the classic witty banter they engage in in public, making light of cancer and its effects on them and Isaac. Gus's dad, understanding how helpful this act of levity is in helping Augustus retain a feeling of normalcy and personhood, thanks Hazel.

Hazel tells the reader, "that was the last good day I had with Gus until the Last Good Day" (p.252). She explains that the "Last Good Day" is the concept that just before dying, people will have a day in which they feel emotionally and even physically back to their old selves. The problem, she explains, is that there is no way to know if a day is a good day or your Last Good Day until there are no good days after it. Hazel had taken the day off from visiting Augustus, now sometime between a month and two after their trip to Amsterdam, but gets a call from Augustus asking her to meet him that night at the church where Support Group is held with a eulogy.

Hazel’s parents almost don’t let her go, arguing that they felt like they never saw her anymore, and getting angry when she spoke briskly back at them. She goes to her room to write her eulogy for Gus and when she comes out to leave and her father tells her she can’t leave without permission she retorts that she’ll be home every night starting very soon which causes them to let her go.

When Hazel arrives at the Support Group room in the church she finds Augustus sitting in a wheelchair and Isaac standing at the lectern about to speak. Augustus fills her in that he has arranged this pre-funeral since he, he says somewhat jokingly, may not be able to attend as a ghost. Isaac gives a bittersweet eulogy about how talkative, pretentious, and vain Augustus is, saying that even if they make robot eyes in the future he wouldn’t want to see a world without Gus. Hazel helps Isaac sit down in a chair and then goes up to make her own eulogy. Hazel says that she will not tell their love story, because it’ll make her cry and because like all love stories it must die with them, but she will talk about math; she says that, as Peter Van Houten told them, some infinities are bigger than other infinities and she is grateful for the little infinity they had together.


Gus's embarrassment at wetting the bed is another example of the mix of childishness and early adulthood that is pressed upon youths with serious illnesses. In this section, Augustus feels both like someone at the end of their life, which is to say as mature as he'll ever be, and witnesses himself regress into a infantile state where he is unable to walk, eat properly, and control his urination. Rather than being upset at the fact that he's dying, his dignity seems sapped by this childish lack of agency, causing him to grasp for adulthood by going out to the gas station for cigarettes.

One of the most touching moments in the book is when Hazel continues the wheelbarrow poem for Augustus while they wait for the ambulance. He complimented her early in the book for being a rare teenager who enjoys reading poetry but does not feel pushed to write it herself. Now that she does, she shows the ability to freehand poetry that is simple yet skillful, honest, and observant. Her stanza of poetry is a sequel, like the one she so desires to An Imperial Affliction, demonstrating the desire for the ability to reach beyond a piece of literature to find further answers.

Green does a fantastic job as an author immersing the reader in Hazel's world enough that small signs can be interpreted without the need for further comment or analysis by Hazel. One such situation is Hazel's choices to take the stairs or elevator throughout the book, since in the first Support Group scene she tells the reader that only the most fragile members, no longer able to compete for health status, take the elevator down to the meeting room. Though Augustus's pre-funeral falls outside the social constructs of Support Group, it is interesting to note that Hazel takes the elevator down to the room as if unable or unwilling to take the stairs and test or demonstrate her health.

Hazel's eulogy, in which she uses content from the meeting with Peter Van Houten but makes it her/their own - demonstrates how much Hazel truly observes and thinks about what she is told about life. Many characters - most notably Peter Van Houten, Hazel's father, and Augustus - share their worldviews on life, death, and meaning and Hazel filters through these to choose what she believes and to what extent. Green often writes moments in which Hazel reflects on things she was told earlier and, using the new situation's context, evaluates them anew.

A strange moment in this section is that in which, after briefly discussing Gus's wetting the bed, Hazel calls Augustus "Gus" and Augustus replies that she used to call him Augustus. Hazel is introduced to Augustus in Support Group, in which he uses his full name, and only learns of his nickname in the next chapter when she goes to his house the first time. Though it is a nickname that she says his parents call him, he never indicates a particular aversion to it, and Hazel uses both his nickname and full name seemingly interchangeably in her narration throughout the book. It seems that she uses his full name with him because he gives such special attention to using even more than her full name - calling her "Hazel Grace" - so when she uses his nickname aloud to him in the same way she has been in her head for as long as she has known him, it is likely a surprise that he takes it so negatively. Keeping in mind the fact that it is his parent's name for him and the amount of discomfort he has recently accrued regarding his status as man versus child, this makes sense, but also creates a situation that is very confusing for Hazel to navigate.