When Hazel gets home from the picnic, she explains that the Dutch themed date had led up to Augustus’ proposal to take her to Amsterdam. Her mother says she can’t—it’s too much to accept from a stranger. Hazel says that Augustus is not a stranger, that he is easily her second best friend. When her mother asks is Kaitlyn is her first best friend, Hazel says that her mother is her first best friend. Her mother tells her she will have to check with Dr. Maria.
Her mother is concerned that Augustus and Hazel are moving too quickly with their relationship, that Augustus is still a stranger to them and his offer is too much. Hazel, like a good teenager, then manipulates her mom to get what she wants (though like the best manipulators, she does it with the truth).
Dr. Maria says that the only way Hazel can go is if an adult goes with her. Hazel asks her mother to go, knowing that her mother is informed about her cancer more than her father, and even more than some oncologists. Her mother says that she couldn’t because Hazels father would be too lonely, but Hazel assures her that he would love a few days with the house to himself.
Once again, Hazel’s health gets in the way of her ability to seize the opportunities other young people take for granted. Her mother’s familiarity with her cancer shows how devoted Mrs. Lancaster is to her daughter, and her worry about Mr. Lancaster shows that she is concerned for the wellbeing of the entire family.
At home, Hazel goes upstairs to lie down. As she rests, she thinks about the picnic with Augustus, focusing on the moment he tried to touch her and she tensed up. Hazel realizes that she wants to kiss him, but she feels guilty because of the fact that he is taking her to Amsterdam, and that seems prostitutional; like she is kissing him in exchange for the trip. She then realizes that his gesture was not even sexual. She decides to call Kaitlyn for advice. Kaitlyn remembers him and goes on about how gorgeous he is and how Hazel would be crazy to turn down his advances. Kaitlyn tells Hazel about a boy that dumped her preemptively because he didn't see their relationship going anywhere. After hearing this, Hazel realizes that she pulled away from him because she was afraid to hurt him.
Hazel finally consciously realizes the reason she pulled away from Augustus is because she does not want to cause harm. She feels like she is using Augustus for the trip, and eventually she will just harm him. Because she does not have experience with love she cannot understand why Augustus would want to be with her, or love her, despite her health. Kaitlyn’s advise helps Hazel, even though the stakes in Kaitlyn’s breakup with her boyfriend are much lower than Hazel, who will likely have to leave Augustus because of her death.
After hanging up with Kaitlyn, she goes online and looks up Caroline Mathers. She realizes that Caroline looks like her. Thousands of people had left condolences for Caroline after she died. She reads through some of the messages, which read that her friends miss her so much, that they were all wounded in her battle, and that they love her.
Reading the posts on Caroline’s wall just reinforces her belief that she will harm others through her death. Hazel begins to associate love with pain, which makes her hesitant to engage in her relationship with Augustus.
Her parents call her down for dinner, and at the table Hazel begins feeling pain in her shoulder and head. She tries to focus on the moment, and reminds herself that imaging the cancer in different parts of her body would not change the reality of what was really going on inside of her.
Hazel attempts to calm herself by reminding herself that worrying won’t help, but the reality of her situation makes being with her family in the moment difficult.
Hazel’s parents notice that something is not right with her and begin to ask if she is okay. Mr. Lancaster asks her if she is excited about Amsterdam, and she replies yes, but is too concerned with her health to engage with them. Hazel is short with them, and Mrs. Lancaster says she is acting very “teenagery”. Hazel responds by saying that is what her mother has wanted. Her mother says they are happy she is becoming a teenager and going on dates, which Hazel refutes. When her mother again asks what is wrong, Hazel says she is like a grenade, and at some point she is going to blow up and harm those around her.
Hazel’s health interferes with her ability to engage with her family. Her mother accuses her of acting “teenager” even though she has been telling Hazel to be a teenager. This moment shows the way in which her parents want her to mature, but also want to hold onto her youth—a time in which she was healthy. Hazel's metaphor of a grenade to describe herself in relation to others speaks to her belief that letting people get close to her will cause them harm.
She goes into her room and tries to read, but she can hear her parents talking downstairs. She hears Mr. Lancaster say that her situation “kills him”. She puts on some music to block out her parents and goes back to Caroline Mathers’ tribute page. The comments on the page make Hazel worry that after she dies she will only be remembered for her heroic fight against cancer, not about the life she had lived. She also sees posts from Caroline’s parents about how the brain tumor had changed Caroline’s personality.
Hazel is aware of the ways in which her health is hard on her parents and feels guilty about it. Like most teenagers, Hazel experiences existential dilemmas surrounding the meaning of her life, but her situation makes these musings particularly difficult because she is facing her impermanence in a very real way.
Hazel returns once again to the moment in the park with Augustus. She realizes that she tensed up because to be with him meant she would inevitable hurt him. As he reached out for her, she knew intuitively that she was committing a violent act against him, just because of the reality of her condition.
Because of her health, Hazel feels unable to engage in a normal relationship with Augustus. The very nature of her condition prevents her from partaking in this natural part of coming of age.
Hazel sends a text to Augustus apologizing because she can’t kiss him. He texts back “okay” to which she responds with an “okay”. He tells her to stop flirting with him. Augustus texts back moments later telling her that he understands. She pictures Augustus at her funeral, and texts “sorry”.
Because Augustus is a cancer survivor and someone who has been in a relationship with someone who has passed from cancer, he understands her concern. Their interaction with “okays”, however, suggests that Augustus will continue to pursue Hazel, even though she is unable to see their relationship without thinking about her death.
Later, as Hazel tries to go to sleep her parents come into her room. Her mother grabs Bluie from the shelf and hands the stuffed animal to Hazel. They reassure her that she is not a grenade. Mr. Lancaster tells her that she is amazing, and that she can’t understand the way they love her because she does not have children. He tells her that the joy she gives them is greater than the sadness of her cancer, and then jokingly says that if she brought them more trouble than joy they’d drop her off at the orphanage. After her parents leave, she cuddles up with Bluie and falls asleep until 4am when she awakens with an “apocalyptic pain fingering out from the unreachable center of [her] head.”
By handing Hazel her childhood stuffed animal, her mother attempts to hold onto a part of Hazel’s youth. Her parents continue to support her, and her father tells her that she hasn’t had the opportunity to love, so she can’t understand the way they feel about her as a daughter. By using the word "apocalyptic" to describe her pain, Hazel suggests that she feels close to the end of her life.