Hazel Grace Lancaster is the main character and narrator of John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars (2012). In the novel, Hazel is 16 years old and has been dealing with thyroid cancer for three years. She is very close to her parents but has mostly removed herself from the friendships she had prior to being diagnosed with cancer. This essay will examine Hazel Grace Lancaster as a character and how her experiences have influenced her mental and physical state.
Hazel Grace Lancaster is exceedingly bright for her age and is unafraid of poking fun at clichés. Firstly, she always challenges baseless social conventions, such as that “people with cancer are strong” (173), Hazel acknowledges the fact that most cancer-ridden patients become weaker rather than stronger, both mentally and physically. Second of all, Hazel is unafraid of voicing her opinion on matters of great importance, “…if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you (Augustus), I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does” (13). She argues that if Augustus truly fears oblivion, he might as well ignore it, because there is no point in worrying about the inevitable, and “worry is yet another side effect of dying” (chapter 5). Furthermore, she frequently ponders on “big ideas” and does not succumb to futility.
Hazel Grace Lancaster is a very kind person for three primary reasons. Firstly, she worries more about the grief her death will cause, “I just want to make my parents happy” (8), than her own impending doom. After all, “There is only one thing in this world shittier than biting it from cancer when you’re sixteen (Hazel), and that’s having a kid who bites it from cancer (her parents)” (8), and she does not want her mother to no longer “be a mother” (chapter 24). Also, Hazel thinks she is “the alpha and omega of my (Hazels) parents’ suffering” (116), which suggests she is the essence of their suffering, and they would lead much more cheerful and fortunate lives had she not been born. Thirdly, Hazel aspires to “…minimize the number of deaths I (Hazel) am responsible for” (28), as such, she does not eat meat. To sum up, Hazel is a very kind person because she is selfless; Hazel cares for all living beings, human or otherwise, and tries to cause as little harm and suffering as possible.
Throughout the novel, Hazel becomes infinitely wiser and learns from her past experiences, all whilst her physical body is deteriorating. Firstly, when Augustus questions whether or not Hazel is “…one of those people that becomes their disease” (chapter 2) she realizes that she has allowed cancer to rule her life. Priorly, she had conceded to the premise that, “My cancer is me (Hazel), the tumors are made of me” (XXXX). But, after her epiphany, she starts opening up to the people around her and makes new friends rapidly. In addition, at the beginning of the novel, she is, “veritably swimming in a paralyzing and totally clinical depression” which is made relatively clear, considering her perspective was originally extremely negative and, “…I (Hazel) devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death” (3). Thus, she was noticeably asocial and did not have many friends at all. Toward the later stages of the prologue, her behavior changes in a drastic fashion; Hazel starts socializing more, finds new friends and even manages to travel to Amsterdam. On the other hand, her physical state is slowly deteriorating. At the beginning of the novel, she refers to taking the elevator up to “the heart of Christ” (4) as being a “Last Days kind of activity” (8), which is incredibly ironic because at the end of the book she also takes the elevator and she “…was really out of breath” (start of chapter 24) from simply sitting down on a chair and she “…devoted the entirety of Patrick’s nutless testimonial to telling my (her) lungs that they were okay, that they could breathe, that there was enough oxygen” (start of chapter 24). The implication is clear: her condition is getting worse to the point where she no longer can perform regular day-to-day activities. Finally, her thoughts about the universe and the meaning of life change as well. Initially, she is very skeptical and sarcastically remarks, “So everything happens for a reason and we’ll all go live in the clouds and play harps and live in mansions?” (222), but her father’s opinion differs from hers, “I (the father) believe the universe wants to be noticed (…) that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed” (223). Her father’s opinion stays with her and at the end of the novel, after the occurrence of Augustus’ death, Hazel asks herself why she still wants to be alive and comes to the conclusion that, “I (Hazel) was thinking about how the universe wants to be noticed, and how I had to notice it best I could” (294). In brief, she starts off the novel as an asocial child with cancer but ends of the novel as a self-assured and wise young woman.
This essay has examined Hazel Grace Lancaster as a character and how her experiences have influenced her mental and physical state. Over the course of the novel The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel undergoes a revolutionary transcendent journey; she goes from being a clever, yet at some times naive, child to being a courageous, precocious young woman. Hazel as a character is also very affectionate. I believe that the concept of Hazel’s spiritual and bodily transformation is very inspirational because she could have given up at any point. But, instead of surrendering to the cancer that is clawing at her feet and allowing it to drag her down, she decides to not give up and keeps climbing.