What Makes Hazel Grace Lancaster an Awesome Character

TFIOSPlease humor me.  I’m going to talk about The Fault in Our Stars one more time.  Then I’ll take a break.  I promise.  For at least a month.

Hazel, the protagonist of The Fault in Our Stars, says something wonderful about books early on in her story.

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.

That’s how I feel about The Fault in Our Stars.  Go read it already!

Hazel frequently shares perceptive insights.  She reads a lot and is very smart, which is why, along with her other awesome attributes, I love her so much.  Let me elaborate.

Hazel is selfless  Often, Hazel thinks of others before herself.  She’s in remission, but her thyroid cancer threw mets to her lungs, and they don’t work well anymore.  In short, she continually battles internal drowning.  She knows her parents have suffered because of her cancer and that they will grieve when she dies.  However, she avoids making new friends because she considers herself “a grenade, ” and she doesn’t want to inflict any more damage than necessary.  When she first meets the dashing Augustus, she resists his affection because she doesn’t want him to be another victim when she dies.  Fortunately for Hazel, and for us, Augustus persists.

Hazel is funny.  Sure, she’s cynical, but I’m sure “a touch of cancer” and its treatments can do that to a person.  Yet, she also makes you laugh.  As Augustus says, “She’s funny without being mean.”  A pretty exceptional quality in our snarky society.

Hazel is humble  The Fault in Our Stars is a study of, among many things, heroism.  Augustus thinks a hero must leave a blazing memory in the consciousness of culture.  He fantasizes about saving innocent children.  Hazel knows she won’t ever do anything heroic.  But she loves and is loved, and often asks Augustus, “Isn’t that enough?”  In a Q & A on Goodreads, John Green commented that Augustus makes the hero’s journey from strength to weakness.  Hazel knows her weakness and her limitations and doesn’t expect to leave a huge mark on the world.  In fact, she strives to leave a small mark (see the note above about “grenade.”)

Hazel shares BIG IDEAS  Hazel has Broccolipremature wisdom.  Her mind rarely succumbs to futility.  She ponders the metaphysical, as well as why scrambled eggs have been relegated to breakfast.  Frequently, her monologue includes “BIG IDEAS” that we should all stop and consider, like:

  • Funerals, I had decided, are for the living.
  • … suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not in any way affect the taste of chocolate (in response to the sentiment Without pain, how could we know joy?)
  • I was thinking about the word handle and all the unholdable things that get handled.

To sum up, Hazel doesn’t carry the One Ring to Mount Doom, nor does she volunteer to fight and die for her district, but she inspired me to think and feel more, simply with her words.

Thanks Hazel, and especially Mr. Green.

What else makes Hazel such a great character?  Can you share some other characters who have a quiet way of inspiring?

Thanks for stopping by!

Julia 

** Spoiler alert**  Some of the comments below give away sensitive information about the plot of the book.  

Julia Tomiak
I believe in the power of words to improve our lives, and I help people find interesting words to read. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+. Member of SCBWI and Wordsmithstudio.org.

36 Comments

    1. I think that the “grenade” bit that I mentioned in the post happens in the first part of the book, either when she’s talking to her parents or to Augustus.

  1. What is the most frightening thing that could happen to Hazel’s parent ,based on Hazel’s view?…
    And the lastly question is …

    As a mother/parent ,what is Fannie’s role in increasing Hazel’s quality if life ?

  2. Hai…I need your helps…
    Based on the story , to you know what is the best way which hazel needed the most to deal with her life and increase her quality of life?

  3. You know you said that she always thinks of others before herself is there a quote in the movie that explains that

  4. I’ve watched this film many times but seems pointless piece of acting having a cigarette in your mouth and actually doing nothing with it.

    1. It’s an analogy, as Augustus explains to Hazel. He’s putting the cancer causing agent in his mouth, but not smoking it. It’s a symbolic way of exerting control. It’s also an expensive way, but hey…

  5. I think that Augustus is wasting money on cigeratte. He does nothing with the cigeratte he just puts it in his mouth. I wouldn’t do that but still I likes the book

    1. He isn’t wasting money on the cigars. He said so himself that they could usually last up to a year. He puts it in his mouth because it represents that he doesn’t want to kill but yet does it in a way that is kind of putting a point out there for others to see… im pretty sure none of us could think of such a great metaphor like this one!

  6. What I really want to know like the book she was reading what’s happened to hazel??
    There is just one other thing to mention hazels treat doesn’t exist so maybe regretfully she succumbed very soon after

  7. Hi,

    I read TFiOS a while back, though it had been after the main hype of it had passed. All I had heard was that it was a great book and a lot of my peers had reccommended that I reserve myself a box of tissues prior to reading.

    Needless to say, I loved the book. As a 17 year old young woman I found it easy to connect with and relate to, considering I myself have been struggling with thyroid and lung issues (who knew they’d match so perfectly). It felt almost as if all I needed to say was embedded within each page while I’ve sat through the waiting period of diagnosis, which can result in a number of existential questions coming to mind.

    I would reccomend this book to anyone looking for a good read. I myself have never been quite into romance novels, but I enjoyed this thoroughly. And although I’ve heard some people argue that it doesn’t feel like a realistic scenario to them for teenagers to act as such or for aspects of this story to work out, I would simply say that it might be on your best interest to reevaluate your own sense of realism and understanding.

    If you’re scanning through this, debating on reading this book, really in every respect do. I think you’ll find it interesting to say the least.

    Cheers,
    Ray

    1. Ray, thank you for taking the time to add your thoughts to the conversation, especially since you have experience with health issues similar to Hazel’s! It’s a testimony to the validity of John Green’s writing that you could relate so well. I’m glad you enjoyed the book and are encouraging others to read it. And for those who don’t think teenagers can contemplate existential issues or use big words, I say they are seriously undervaluing an entire generation of people who have many gifts to offer the world.
      Great to hear from you!
      Julia

  8. Loved the review and the book!! LOVED IT!!! Thanks! Because their are many words to describe Hazel can you give a few adjectives describing her?

  9. I read this book after reading several other reviews online.
    I found it to be one of the wort books I’d ever bothered to pick up, as well as a waste of money. All of the hype had me very excited to read it as I had read that the characters were very intelligent and deep and that the story was moving and unforgettable. I won’t go into all of the reasons as to why I disliked this book, but I will mention my least favorite part of it: the characters. I hate the fact that they are described as being extremely intelligent and wise beyond their years because, in my opinion, I find that they are not. I do not believe that they are intelligent (i do not, by any means, believe that they are unintelligent either). It is frustrating to have these characters labeled as wise beyond their years and such other things.. I believe that that sets a very low bar and standard for “average teenage intelligence” because if these kids are “above average” in wisdom and intellect, then what does that say about the expectations of an “average” teenager’s intelligence? If these kids are smart, then that makes many of the people I’ve known geniuses. I will give them one thing though, I admire Augustus’ wit. He was actually my favorite character in the book (despite the terrible cigarette metaphor).. Hazel was my least favorite, mainly because I find cynicism to be the worst trait that a human can have (I also cringed every time she called Augustus “hot”, and I lost it when they had sex in Amsterdam. That was terrible..). To me they were average teenagers who only sometimes used a more pretentious (not at all impressive) vocabulary to express the same things I’ve heard a countless number of other kids express.. I usually dislike “young adult” novels, and despite being a kid myself, I find it extremely difficult to truly and honestly relate with most teenage narrators. Despite my views, I very well respect your opinion and I’m actually glad that you enjoyed the book. This response turned out much longer than I intended, so I’m going to stop now because I am incredibly tired. I apologize for any incoherence or rambling.
    Cheers.

    1. Thanks for adding a counterbalance to my gushing enthusiasm for The Fault in Our Stars. Augustus definitely is witty, and for me, that’s tied in to his intelligence. Sorry you didn’t enjoy the book as much as I did.

      1. Franklt, I’d heard about people who could dislike this book. I considered it a myth, how niave of me. I respect both of your opinions. However sometimes its a matter of someone’s personal life that brings that causes a person to receive such joy from a novel as such.

          1. This is true! I fell in love with the characters, its hard to understand how someone couldn’t.

    2. Before I say anything, I would like to apologise in advance for any grammatical errors, as English is not my native language. I believe the people who said that Hazel Grace and Augustus were “intelligent” misused the word. I agree with you that they were neither overly intelligent nor stupid. I think. readers were trying toexpress the. fact that Hazel and Augustus ponder quite a lot on matters that teenagers don’t normally. I also think they thought about these things because they felt different from the rest of the teenagers, so in turn, they thought differently. My apologies for such a long response.quite a lot on matters that teenagers dondon’t normally.

      1. Pondering is an excellent verb for Hazel and Augustus. And part of why I love them is because they think so much – even about things as simple as scrambled eggs and basketball hoops! Great point!

    3. I have read the book. Several times. And I must tell you that I completely disagree, you see, I´m thirteen years old. A teenager. And I would not classify the characters or their personalities as wise or more intelligent than most teenagers. I would consider them more like open minded, and obviously they are clear and aware of what is really happening. People die from cancer everyday. That´s a reality, we can´t ignore or avoid. And these kids suffered it. And died. The point is that, I don´have cancer, thanks god I don´t. But some teenagers do. And this makes them grow up. Suffering from this, makes them way more mature than they should be at seventeen or eighteen. They are just trying to understand life a little before they die. They are trying to enjoy and comprehend and well, be remembered by people. So, I am deeply sorry you could not appreciate the book in the way most people did. And I strongly recommend you to read it again. I respect your opinions, though.

      1. Great points, thank you for adding to this discussion. I especially like your line, “They are just trying to understand life a little before they die.”

  10. I read the book after reading your review.
    I didn’t find it all that noteworthy. For one thing, Hazel and Augustus had exactly the same voice. At times, I couldn’t tell the difference between their dialogues. And they were way too wise beyond their years. What teenager actually says “I have been wanting to call you on a nearly minutely basis, but I have been waiting until I could form a coherent thought in re An Imperial Affliction,”? What kind of teenager actually says ‘in re’? And now, I’ve seen arguments saying online that she’s wise beyond her years because of all the reading she does and how the cancer has effected her, but I doubt it has effected her that much to actually make her talk like a 30 year old man is talking through her. It’s as if all the characters are mini-John Greens. The ending of the story was also entirely predictable. I mean, from the moment when Augustus said he was in remission from osteosarcoma, I knew that he’d die from a reoccurence of the disease in the end. Additionally, I don’t know any 16 year-olds that would actually agree to go watch a movie at a guy’s house that she only met 5 minutes ago when he was staring at her.
    OK, I know I’ve been ranting on & on, but I just believe that since this book has so much recognition, some people are just too scared or afraid of being judged wrong that they see some things that they don’t necessarily think is believable. Therefore, that’s me. The person who points out all the things that people don’t really want to point out. I’m not trying to downgrade this book or make people change their minds or even just make some people angry. I’m just stating my opinion and I just hope that some people actually understand all the things that I pointed out and agree.
    Thanks,
    ~Viwiel

    1. Hi Viwiel,
      Thanks for consulting my review, reading The Fault in Our Stars, and taking the time to come back with some thoughtful feedback. You make good points. I agree that Augustus and Hazel often sound similar- jaded, sarcastic, a little wise beyond their years. However, I see an important difference: Hazel usually is humble, self-depreciating. Augustus’s language is pretentious because he’s trying so hard to be the dashing hero. By the end of the book, as he faces the limitations of his mortality, his language becomes more simple, less elevated. It shows the change in him.
      I agree, now that you point it out, that it seems unlikely that a smart girl like Hazel would jump into a car with Augustus after knowing him for only five minutes. A few more interactions before their “first date” would be more realistic.
      And I’m naive- or perhaps very good at denial- I didn’t want to think that Augustus would die. But my book club girls saw it coming too. I figured it out somewhere in the middle, before he admitted to Hazel that his cancer had returned.
      Thanks for this awesome discussion and for being bold enough to dissent from popular opinion. I hope to hear from you more often!
      Julia

  11. I just finished reading this book last week, based on one of your earlier posts and rave reviews. Couldn’t put it down! Like you, I admire how Hazel uses humor to lighten otherwise sad & heavy moments. And I love her devotion to her parents and to Augustus. I can’t wait to read more by John Green.

    1. Yay Emily and Nicole. I’m glad you both read it. Nice point about her devotion to her parents Nicole. Thanks ladies!

  12. Hurray, I’ve finally read the book! Hazel is just so smart, which is a characteristic that I find is too often missing among other YA characters. Loved this book!

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