The Fault in Our Stars

Coming of Age Theme Analysis

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Coming of Age Theme Icon
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LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Fault in Our Stars, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Coming of Age Theme Icon

The Fault in Our Stars contains all of the traditional elements of a coming of age narrative. Centering on the experience of two teenage characters, Hazel and Augustus, the novel follows their passage from childhood into adulthood. As typical of coming of age narratives, Hazel and Augustus begin to discover the adult world in all if its complexity, they begin to experience their bodies and sexualities in new ways, and they rebel against and come to terms with society, family, rules, and religion. Their passage into adulthood, however, is complicated by the fact that they are living with and dying from cancer. Having cancer changes the way in which the characters of The Fault in Our Stars approach their passage into adulthood. They are constantly facing the fact of their own impermanence, which leads the characters to walk a line between moving into adulthood and holding onto their youth. Their youths were a time in which they were healthy, so they are afraid to let them go, and their passage into adulthood is threatened by their cancer, so the characters are determined to pass into adulthood before it is too late.

For both Hazel and Augustus, their cancer is paired with their passage toward adulthood, and the story unfolds as they grapple with coming of age in the face of their diagnoses. Hazel’s diagnosis is determined three months after her first period, and Augustus receives his diagnosis and loses his leg just as he begins to think existentially about basketball, realizing his childhood love of the sport is fading. Their cancers make each of the difficult passages into adulthood even more complicated than usual, as they are fraught with meaning and nuances that healthy teenagers are never forced to confront. For example, they do not experience relationships, romantic or otherwise, in the same ways typical teenagers do because their futures are not promised, they don’t get to experiment with alcohol and substances the way typical teenagers do, as their cancers have forced them to become acquainted with powerful painkillers from an early age, but most importantly, their relationship with their sick bodies makes this passage particularly challenging.

The passage into adulthood necessitates new relationships with one’s body and sexuality, but the characters of The Fault in Our Stars are coming of age with bodies that are abnormal. Augustus is missing a leg, Hazel must carry an oxygen tanks and has poor lungs, and Isaac loses his eyes. Hazel and Augustus, however, find common ground based on their experiences with cancer, and develop a deep love for one another. Because they are both living with cancer, they are able to see past the deficits of the other’s body, and their ability to see past the external (the oxygen tanks, puffy cheeks, and prosthetics) allows them to realize their sexuality, come to terms with their bodies, and lose their virginity to one another. Although their coming of age is not typical, Hazel and Augustus do experience a passage into physical, emotional, and mental maturity, surpassing that of their peers. In this way, their cancer becomes a force that drives them to mature and develop deep understandings of life, death, love, and relationships that their healthy peers will not attain for many years to come.

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Coming of Age ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Coming of Age appears in each chapter of The Fault in Our Stars. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Coming of Age Quotes in The Fault in Our Stars

Below you will find the important quotes in The Fault in Our Stars related to the theme of Coming of Age.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“Why are you looking at me like that?”
Augustus half smiled. “Because you’re beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence…I mean, particularly given that, as you so deliciously pointed out, all of this will end in oblivion and everything.”

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker), Augustus Waters (speaker)
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

I liked my mom, but her perpetual nearness sometimes made me feel weirdly nervous. And I liked Kaitlyn, too. I really did. But three years removed from proper full-time schoolic exposure to my peers, I felt a certain unbridgeable distance between us.

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker), Mrs. Lancaster, Kaitlyn
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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Any attempts to feign normal social interactions were just depressing because it was so glaringly obvious that everyone I spoke to for the rest of my life would feel awkward and self-conscious around me, except maybe kids like Jackie who just didn’t know any better.

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker)
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

“Oh,” he said. “Caroline is no longer suffering from personhood.”
“Oh,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” I said. I’d known plenty of dead people, of course. But I’d never dated one. I couldn't even imagine it, really.
“Not your fault, Hazel Grace. We’re all just side effects, right?”
“Barnacles on the container ship of consciousness,” I said, quoting AIA.

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker), Augustus Waters (speaker), Caroline Mathers
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

“I’m like. Like. I’m like a grenade, Mom. I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, Okay…I just want to stay away from people and read books and think and be with you guys because there is nothing I can do about hurting you; you’re too invested, so just please let me do that, okay?”

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker), Mrs. Lancaster
Related Symbols: Grenade
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

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“You are not a grenade Hazel, not to us. Thinking about you dying makes us sad, Hazel, but you are not a grenade. You are amazing. You can’t know, sweetie, because you’ve never had a baby become a brilliant young reader with a side interest in horrible television shows, but the joy you bring us is so much greater than the sadness we feel about your illness.”

Related Characters: Mr. Lancaster (speaker), Hazel Grace Lancaster
Related Symbols: Grenade
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

Mom and Dad left us alone, which felt awkward. I worked hard to meet his eyes, even though they were the kind of pretty that’s hard to look at. “I missed you,” Augustus said.

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker), Augustus Waters (speaker)
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

It’s not like I had some utterly poignant, well-lit memory of a healthy father pushing a healthy child and the child saying higher higher higher or some other metaphorically resonant moment. The swing set was just sitting there, abandoned, the two little swings hanging still and sad from a greyed plank of wood, the outline of the seats like a kid’s drawing of a smile.

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker)
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

You could glance at Augustus and never know he was sick, but I carried my disease with me on the outside, which is part of why I’d become such a homebody in the first place.

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker), Augustus Waters
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I’m in love with you,” he said quietly.
“Augustus,” I said.
“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasures of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have and I am in love with you.”

Related Characters: Augustus Waters (speaker), Hazel Grace Lancaster
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

Van Houten pursed his lips. “I regret that I cannot indulge your childish whims, but I refuse to pity you in the manner to which you are well accustomed.”
“I don’t want your pity,” I said.
“Like all sick children,” he answered dispassionately, “you say you don’t want pity but your very existence depends on it…sick children inevitably become arrested: You are fated to live out your days as the child you were before you were diagnosed, the child who believes there is life after a novel ends.”

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker), Peter Van Houten (speaker)
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

I took a few breaths and went back to the page. “I can’t talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this: There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million… There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker), Augustus Waters
Page Number: 260
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 24 Quotes

“Would you like to share a memory of Augustus with the group?”
“I wish I would just die, Patrick. Do you ever wish you would just die?”
“Yes,” Patrick said, without his usual pause. “Yes, of course. So why don't you?”
I thought about it. My old stock answer was that I wanted to stay alive for my parents, because they would be all gutted and childless in the wake of me, and that was still true kind of, but that wasn't it, exactly. “I don’t know.”

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker), Patrick (speaker), Augustus Waters
Page Number: 294
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.
I do, Augustus.
I do.

Related Characters: Hazel Grace Lancaster (speaker), Augustus Waters (speaker)
Page Number: 313
Explanation and Analysis:

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