The Fault in Our Stars

7 July 2016

The Fault in Our Stars can be interpreted to have many hidden meanings. One of the most overlooked and obscured meanings being unexpected events. More specifically, John Green will lead the reader on to one thing before throwing them a curveball. Green uses his knowledge of symbolism, imagery, diction, and metaphors to build on this idea. To begin, John Green uses what seems to be his favorite writing tool, symbolism, in order to push his overall theme of unexpected events. He often refers to the unlit cigarette between Augustus’s lips (20).

This appears, according to Hazel, to be Gus’s hamartia. She thinks he has a fatal flaw until he explains the metaphor behind it. This is the first time the reader witnesses Green’s unexpected events. Hazel Grace first feels “disappointment and anger” until she gets to know Gus, and she eventually grows to enjoy the symbols. This change of heart is not expected by the reader, and initially creates a sense of failure in Augustus Waters. The plot quickly takes a turn in his favor, though, as the reader learns more about him. Green also uses other tools to expand on his overall theme.

Another way Green uses symbolism in The Fault in Our Stars is through his constant reference to An Imperial Affliction. Hazel and Gus speak of the novel for a fair portion of the story, making references to the sudden end of the book. They speak about how they would love to know how it ends, but could never find out. Such as their initial conversation about An Imperial Affliction, Augustus says ”I guess Anna died” (53). A guess is all we have to give. Green continues to show this in similar ways, constantly reminding the reader that life, just like a book, can end without any warning.

Next, a lot of thought went into the author’s use of imagery. This idea is used several times in the novel to show that things can happen when you least expect them to. For example, Gus and Hazel seem to be having a great time in Amsterdam until out of nowhere, Green exposes the fact that Gus had been diagnosed (again) with cancer (214). Gus tells Hazel, and she is obviously blind-sided. This is one of the most apparent instances where John Green actually shows us the theme of unexpected events. Also, Green uses great diction in order to get his point across.

By the middle of the novel the reader feels a connection to both the main characters, and gets a feeling for how they speak. Hazel often uses normal teenage words, like when she says she has “lungs that suck at being lungs” (29). Augustus usually used more elevated language, until it was time to say something serious. This is one way Green actually hinted at an emotional part of the story. Gus would occasionally calm his ego, slow down, and use normal language. These bursts of mediocrity would usually be followed by bad news, such as his diagnosis on page 214.

The uncharacteristic actions of Gus would entice the reader to expect something, but not give away the information. The use of metaphors is also very apparent in the book, but the reader may not always know what they mean. The conclusion of the story is a kind of “aha” moment where they all seem to come together. The ending of An Imperial Affliction, for example is an extended metaphor for life. Hazel expects she is the “side effect” of her life (49). Hazel relates to Anna, the main character, and thinks they are one in the same.

In the end, Gus ends up being the side effect, making the conclusion of The Fault in Our Stars a main tool for Green. He leads the reader on to think that in the end it will be Hazel who passes, leaving Gus upset. But in the end he reminds the reader that one may not assume anything in life. His theme of unknown phenomena is present throughout the whole story. In conclusion, the novel is very well written, and the use of literary tools assists the reader in finding a theme, whether it is obvious or obscured. Through his use of symbolism, imagery, diction, and metaphors, Green makes his theme of expecting the unexpected very evident.

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The Fault in Our Stars. (2016, Jul 31). Retrieved July 5, 2020, from
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