The Marriage of Fate and Free Will The common definition of a hero is often skewed and misconceived. Heroes are usually viewed as supernatural, divine individuals who live to fight evil for the good of everyone else or at the very least, the damsel in distress. However, when one pauses to examine this definition more closely, a modern hero can be someone who has positively impacted someone else’s life. Certainly, modern literature challenges this archaic and irrelevant definition. John Green is no exception, his The Fault in Our
Stars presents Augustus Waters as a hero, not so much for his superhuman strength or ability to rescue a beautiful woman from a burning building, but rather his ability to positively impact the life of someone else. In their own ways, Isaac and Hazel are affected and eternally changed by Augustus’ bravery, very personal struggle and the legacy he leaves behind. To begin, Just like any amputee who has overcome cancer; without even knowing him, Augustus Waters would be commended for his bravery simply because of what he must go through and what he has had to overcome.
Isaac and Hazel are inspired by Augustus in the way he deals with both his personal struggles as well as their own. One of Augustus’ strengths is his ability to easily and naturally help others cope with personal, physical and psychological hardships. This is not to say that Augustus rids Isaac and Hazel of their pain and trauma from cancer, he does however, veer their attention away from their illnesses and encourages them to focus on the more important aspects of life like essentially living their lives while they still can.
While Isaac is faced tit his final days of sight, Augustus makes sure that, rather than feel sorry for himself and dwelling on the reality of the situation, he encourages Isaac to go out and fully participate in life while he can still see. For example, Gus plays videotapes with Isaac and this serves as an escape the real world and helped Isaac cope with impending life of blindness. Certainly, this is an example of Gus’ bravery as he chooses to focus on his sick friend rather than to his own critical situation. On the other hand, Hazel views Gus as brave for completely different reasons.
Hazel and Gus deed compliment each other in the sense that Hazel inspires to be braver than he thinks he can be. Even in the simplest moments, Gus is able to convey his bravery to Hazel. For example, when Hazel is appalled by Gus putting a cigarette in his mouth but not lighting it, he tells her, “It’s a metaphor, see: you put the killing thing in between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do it’s killing” which is actually a metaphor within itself (Green, 121). Although Augustus’ body is mostly made up of cancer, he does not give the cancer the power to take over his life.
This is truly an inspiration to Hazel. It demonstrates his courage to stand up to danger in a more personal sense. Similarly, when Gus stands up to Van Hooted, he confidently states, muff don’t get to choose if you get hurt, old man, but you do have a say in who hurts you” which reiterates the fact that he is very selective about what he lets get the best He chooses not to get metaphorically hurt by cancer and would rather put his emotions in the hands of Hazel. By Gus saying, “It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you. It becomes obvious that he has impolitely invested himself in Hazel and would rather be emotionally wounded at the hands of a girl rather than cancer (Green, 89). Secondly, amongst others, the struggle for normalcy that Augustus has to endure is rarely mentioned in the book. There are merely subtle hints at the many internal battles that Gus fights within himself, while maintaining a collected front for Hazel and Isaac. Although Augustus never reveals the stress he is under, there are many hints that can be noted while reading with a critical eye and understanding with a critical mind.
One of the main seasons for Augustus’ turmoil is related to the stress he is under in his household. Especially with respect to postponing treatment until he returns from his trip. The trip to Amsterdam to allow Hazel to meet her favorite author surely plays a significant role in Gus’ personal struggle for normalcy. Something that stands out for Hazel as a clear indicator of the stress that Gus is under occurs when Hazel and Mrs.. Lancaster arrive to pick him up for Amsterdam. Although she never sees it happen, she hears Augustus yell out of distress for the first time. He says, “BECAUSE IT’S MY LIFE, MOM.
IT BELONGS TO ME” (Green, 139). Clearly, this the moment that Gus chooses to ignore the stress it is causing and focus instead on being a normal teenager. Alongside the emotional aspect of his personal conflicts, as an amputee, Augustus is faced with the many physical challenges that come along with having to live with a prosthetic leg. Although Hazel sees Augustus as her ‘knight in shining armor’, she cannot help but notice his physical exertion when attempting mundane tasks. “Augustus opened a door behind me and engaged in the complicated business f entering the backseat of a car with one leg” (Green, 186).
This is a prime observation of Hazel’s which demonstrates the struggle; Augustus has no choice but to confront if he wishes to live a simple, average life. Lastly, but arguably most importantly, the metaphoric footprint that Gus leaves behind is significantly more profound than that of an average seventeen-year-old boy. Pre-cancer, he was a basketball star and will likely be remembered as such. However, the ways in which Isaac and Hazel view him are undoubtedly deeper and more authentic than what appears on the surface.
Most importantly, Hazel and Isaac will remember Gus for his attention to personal liberty and free will while masking his pain and refusing to be controlled by his very real pain by not giving it the attention it demands to have. Augustus refuses to show that pain is getting its way, “That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt” (Green, 152). Although he can feel the pain, he refuses to show that it affects him; he goes to Amsterdam regardless of the bleak reality with which he is faced and continues to reassure Hazel that he is healthy enough to travel across the globe.
Perhaps in some way, part of Gus’ legacy is his refusal to give into the image of a handicapped cancer patient. Unfortunately, however, he did not recover and died but left Hazel a better person because of their relationship. He leaves her with new hope for a better life while living with her have been around to see it happen, there is no doubt Augustus left a mark on the world he left behind. Famous musician, Jim Hendrix once said, “I’m the one that has to die when it’s time for me to die so let me live my life the way I want to”. This is exactly the legacy that Augustus Waters leaves behind.
He never lost touch with his own free will. In other words, Gus was never mentally and for the most part physically restricted because of his illness. In the end, when examining heroism with respect to Augustus Waters, the reader is forced to challenge the perception created by society. It is without question that Augustus is a true, modern hero as he encompasses the crucial characteristics of bravery, perseverance, ultimately leaving a lasting legacy. Although he may not have had the chance to see his spirit live on after his death, it surely did.
In many ways the eulogy for Hazel is his kilos – the glory and fame that is heard. The words spoken about Hazel, written by Augustus allow him to in fact die the perfect death. The mark that he leaves on Hazel and Isaac is significant enough for them to continue living in the manner in which Augustus inspired them to live. Regardless of how long they have left to live, Isaac and Hazel will live with more bravery, strength in the face of struggle, and eventually leave behind their own lasting legacies. Truly, this is a lesson for all those who turn the pages of this book.