When Augustus is added to the picture, water’s symbolic nature becomes nuanced. It is no coincidence that Augustus’ last name is Waters. When Augustus dies, Hazel again describes the feeling of losing him in terms of being smashed by waves, but unable to drown. Through this experience, however, she comes to know the power of love, and is reassured that her family will survive through her own death. Water begins to represent the dual nature of suffering; that it is painful, but necessary for life. In his final letter to Van Houten Augustus describes the water in Hazel’s lungs as, “a desert blessing, an ocean curse.” Showing that water is both positive and negative depending on the circumstance. This idea also emerges in the setting of Amsterdam. The city, like Indianapolis where the bulk of the novel unfolds, is a canal city, and derives so much of its beauty from the water flowing through it. Yet Amsterdam is also constantly under the threat of rising waters. The Fault in our Stars
’ epigraph, a line from the fictional novel within the story An Imperial Affliction
describes water as “conjoiner rejoinder prisoner concealer revelator,” depicting the way in which water’s meaning shifts, and while it causes suffering it also leads to meaning and liberation.