The Fault in Our Stars

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Water Symbol Icon
Water becomes a symbol that alludes to the suffering Hazel experiences through out the novel. Her cancer has caused her lungs to collect fluid, which makes it difficult for her to get around, and also forces her to carry an oxygen tank, which becomes an external marker of her difference from other healthy people around her. At one point in the novel, the fluid in her lungs almost kills her, placing her in ICU and almost preventing her trip to Amsterdam with Augustus. Several times in the novel, she explains her experience of having cancer to drowning. But this suffering that is symbolized by water also leads to personal growth, and in this way, the symbolic nature of water has multiple layers.

Water Quotes in The Fault in Our Stars

The The Fault in Our Stars quotes below all refer to the symbol of Water. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of The Fault in Our Stars published in 2014.
Chapter 25 Quotes

I missed the future…I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up that you can’t make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith. I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I could never see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again.

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker)
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 305
Explanation and Analysis:

As Hazel waits for Lidewij to respond about whether or not Augustus sent Van Houten drafts of a sequel before he died, Hazel thinks about all the things she will never do in life, thinking that she already "misses the future." However, she figures that this is only human, since humans always are fated to dream bigger than what they have experienced.

As Hazel begins to think of the permanence of Augustus's death, and all the things that he will not be able to do (like finish a sequel), she begins to think of all the things that she herself will never do, or never do again. However, she realizes that she is grateful for the experiences she has been able to have in her life, like seeing the ocean from an airplane, and realizes that these ambitions and wishes might have the same veracity even if she was healthy and able to do as she pleased. She feels more connected to human nature, a natural part of the cycle of life and death, and less like a "side effect" of mutation. 

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Water Symbol Timeline in The Fault in Our Stars

The timeline below shows where the symbol Water appears in The Fault in Our Stars. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
Being Different Theme Icon
...she went through surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. After all of this, her lungs filled with water, which she explains felt like drowning for months on end. She contracted pneumonia, and ended... (full context)
Chapter 7
Life and Death Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...a brain tumor, but she was deprived of oxygen because her lungs were full of water. They had drained most of the fluid. Hazel notices the tube coming from her lung,... (full context)
Chapter 11
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
Religion and Philosophy Theme Icon
...that the Netherlands seems sunk into the ocean with little rectangles of green surrounded by water. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
Religion and Philosophy Theme Icon
...notices the differences of Amsterdam compared to Indianapolis. The row houses lean precariously toward the water in the canal. There are bicycles, and coffee shops everywhere. She thinks about how wonderful... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Religion and Philosophy Theme Icon
...looks out over the canal, noticing boats of all shapes and sizes floating on the water. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Being Different Theme Icon
...by the canal and Hazel notes that Amsterdam is a city that should be under water, but they made it exist. She compares herself to Amsterdam, and thinks Dr. Maria thinks... (full context)
Chapter 21
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
Religion and Philosophy Theme Icon
...waves tossing her against the rocks again and again, leaving her face up in the water, un-drowned. (full context)
Chapter 25
Life and Death Theme Icon
Being Different Theme Icon
...she was without a boat and in the middle of a huge lake, surrounded by water. Her mother comes in with the phone, telling her Kaitlyn was on the other line.... (full context)