A couple of days later, Hazel goes to Isaac’s house. They play the voice commanded video game, navigating their characters through a pitch-dark labyrinth. They give ridiculous commands to the game, telling their characters to lick and hump the walls. Then Isaac says he dislikes living in a world without Augustus, to which the game replies, “I don't understand.” Isaac replies, “Neither do I.”
The pitch-dark labyrinth symbolically represents the situation in which Hazel and Isaac find themselves after Augustus’ death. They are navigating through a difficult world in which they have little experience. The game’s response to Isaac’s comment shows the way in which they are unable to understand the loss they are experiencing.
They talk about Augustus for a while after putting the game down. Hazel remembers the first support group they attended together when Augustus shared his fear of oblivion. Hazel states that the problem is not suffering or oblivion, but the meaninglessness of it all, “the absolutely inhuman nihilism of suffering.” She notes that each person just wants to be noticed by the universe.
Hazel, unlike Augustus, is not concerned with being remembered after death or entering the afterlife, she is concerned with whether life has a meaning. Although she can understand her father’s comment about the universe wanting to be noticed, she believes the universe has no concern with humans.
Eventually, Isaac tells Hazel that Augustus really loved her and never stopped talking about her. He then asks if Hazel ever got the thing Augustus was writing for her. Hazel asks him what he is talking about, and he tells her Augustus was writing a sequel to An Imperial Affliction. Hazel immediately wants to know where Augustus kept the writing, but Isaac doesn't know. Hazel says that if there is still something of him floating around out there, she had to have it.
Because of Augustus’ obsession with being remembered and leaving something behind after death, it makes sense that he would have written something for Hazel. Hazel knows she must have the writing because it is the last message she will receive from Augustus, and in a sense, provides a way for them to connect after his death.
When Hazel gets into the car to drive to Augustus’ house, she turns it on and hip-hop starts blaring from the speaker. Suddenly, Peter Van Houten begins rapping from the back seat. Hazel screams at him to get out of the car. He tells her he is there simply to apologize. He tells her he has an alcohol problem, and he is completely alone. He then tells Hazel she reminds him of Anna. He then asks if Hazel has ever heard of Antonietta Meo, a six-year-old girl who died of osteosarcoma. On her death bed she said, “Pain is like fabric: the stronger it is, the more it’s worth.” He tells Hazel that Antonietta may be the youngest non-martyr saint to be beatified by the Catholic Church. Van Houten begins crying then. He tells her that he had a daughter who died at eight years old, and she will never be beatified.
The fact that Van Houten is there to apologize suggests that he does still have some humanity buried beneath his nihilism and alcoholism. It becomes clear that he is so bothered by Hazel because she reminds him of his own daughter, who died as a child from cancer. Van Houten is bitter because he knows that his daughter will not be remembered or recognized for her suffering. His pessimistic views are based on the resentment he feels toward the universe for taking her.
Hazel begins driving. She asks Van Houten if he was married. He tells her, that he was married, but the marriage ended before his daughter died. He tells her that grief does not change a person; it only reveals them. Hazel understands that An Imperial Affliction was Van Houten’s attempt to give his daughter another life as a teenager. He tells Hazel that his daughter didn't understand what was happening to her, and he had to tell her she was dying. He promised her that he would see her in heaven, but twenty-two years had passed since then. Hazel tells him to go home, sober up, and write another book. After dropping him off, Hazel watches him in the rearview. He takes a bottle out and looks at it as if he will leave it on the sidewalk, but then takes a swig.
Van Houten does not give Hazel the ending of the novel because he is living out the ending as a drunk and bitter man. His negative views are based on his experience during his daughter's suffering and after her death. He promised her he would see her in heaven, but this is a promise he has not been able to fulfill and no longer believes is true. After Hazel tells him to sober up, Van Houten seems about to put it down, to perhaps find a new way forward, but then is unable to put the bottle down, showing that he will most likely continue in his suffering. Hazel stands in contrast to such defeated bitterness.
At Augustus’ house, his parents are happy to see Hazel. Hazel is uncomfortable in the house. They sit down to eat, and Hazel wants Augustus’ parents to comfort one another, but they do not even look at one another. His father says, “heaven needed another angel.” Eventually his siblings show up and their kids begin to play. Hazel asks Augustus’ parents if they know about any writing for her. They say they don’t, but she can look in the basement.
Augustus’ family struggles after his death, as shown by the uncomfortable environment in the house and his parents’ inability to look at one another. His father continues to turn to God and religion to cope with his loss.
Hazel goes into the basement and checks Augustus’ computer. She doesn’t find anything on the computer, so she checks the bookshelf. She finds The Price of Dawn on his nightstand and says out loud, “Spoiler alert: Mayhem survives,” just in case Augustus can hear her. She crawls into his bed for a moment and takes in his smell. After going back upstairs, she asks his parents if he had a notebook, but his father says he didn’t have time to write at the end, and all of the messages from him are coming from above now. He points to the ceiling when he says it, but Hazel does not feel his presence.
When Hazel speaks out loud to Augustus, it shows that there is a sliver of doubt in her belief that there is no afterlife. She continues to look for a connection with Augustus when she crawls into his bed. His father has a belief that Augustus is in heaven and still able to communicate, but it is difficult for Hazel to accept this belief.