I love the book-within-a-book thing that John Green has going on in The Fault in our Stars.
I love how Hazel finds her own story in Anna’s story, in An Imperial Affliction. How she is able to accept that Anna’s story stops in the middle of a sentence, because that’s how life stops. How her life will stop. With all kinds of thoughts and in fact a whole existence unfinished.
Incomplete but done.
What she can’t live with is not knowing what Anna’s death does to the others in her story. Does Anna’s mother move to Amsterdam with the Rich Tulip Man? Is he legit, or is he a con? And what happens to Sisyphus the hamster?
Hazel apologizes to Van Houten, the book's author, for asking him such non-literary questions, but that’s the point. For her, it’s not just a book. It’s her life story and she wants to know the ending; she wants to know how her story will end for the people in her life whom she can’t help but hurt.
Hazel’s greatest fear is that she is a grenade. That when she goes, she will take others with her. And that’s what she can’t live with.
Van Houten can’t give her the ending she wants because he is the collateral damage that she doesn’t want anybody else to be. He is the walking wounded of his own daughter’s detonation. Of his own life’s grenade.
So he insists on oblivion. Something Hazel understands on some level. Something Augustus fears above all else.
Augustus tries to write for Hazel the ending to Van Houten’s story, but can’t. Instead he writes for her her eulogy, saving her from his fears. And she writes him his. In the end, she doesn’t deliver it -- not the way she told it to him. Because in the end, funerals are for the living and she is the one who has to go on living, saving him from her fears.
Each of them gets to live with the things they can’t live with.
In the end Augustus leaves his mark, if only as a wound. He is the grenade that goes off in Hazel's life. And Hazel finds out that it is possible to live -- that she can live -- with the pain.
In the end, “The marks humans leave are too often scars.” (John Green)
See more about The Fault in our Stars, here or here.