In part because The Sun Is Also a Star offers vignettes into the lives of seemingly minor characters that somehow influence the lives of Daniel and Natasha, the novel makes the claim that all humans are, in many ways, however small, connected to one another. Though The Sun Is Also a Star espouses a cosmic sense of connection, this is ultimately shown to be very different from actual human connection in the form of friendship, love, or familial relationships. Overwhelmingly, the novel suggests that such connections are necessary for happiness, while isolation is a recipe for tragedy and disaster.
Though Natasha shares a strong relationship with her mother, Patricia, and a close friendship with Bev, a girl from school, this doesn't necessarily keep her from feeling alone in her family and in her greater community. Her love of math and science set her apart from her more artistically inclined father and brother, and Bev is the only person outside of her immediately family with whom Natasha shares that she's not a legal citizen of the US. In the case of Natasha's relationship with Samuel, the reader learns that Natasha actively sought isolation from him after she overheard a fight between her parents in which Samuel accused his family of being the reason why his acting career is unsuccessful—insisting, essentially, that their familial bond is a burden. Rather than reach out to her father, Natasha draws even deeper into herself and often wears headphones to isolate herself from anyone who might enter her world. Though she clearly resents her father for what she believes he "did" to their family (not getting a job and spending his days locked in his room, reading plays, and thereby keeping the family impoverished), the isolated world she creates for herself through her headphones and her love of math and science exists in very much the same realm as Samuel's habit of staying home and reading. Both are acts of isolation intended to separate the person in question from their family, though it's worth noting that both Samuel and Natasha do what they do to protect themselves from hurt. To this end, Natasha at one point tells Daniel that she'd like to be a data scientist and work, alone, interpreting data and numbers—things that, in her opinion, don't have the power to hurt her in the way that people do. This shows that in some cases, people withdraw as a coping mechanism—though it's also important to recognize that Samuel's isolation offers him no tools to remedy his situation, and Natasha's isolation similarly makes her unwilling to trust others who may have the power to help her.
When Natasha meets Daniel, they very soon begin working through a series of 36 questions that one scientific study suggested can cause two strangers to fall in love in a matter of hours. In doing so, Natasha allows herself, for the first time, to fully open up to another human being and form a close, intimate connection. This connection is notably a source of strength for both Natasha and Daniel. Through the process of sharing their very personal thoughts, ideas, and beliefs with each other, both of them begin to look more closely at themselves and the people around them. This in turn leads them to make changes to their beliefs that the epilogue implies led each of them to live happier, more fulfilling lives. In Daniel's case, he refuses to become a doctor (going against the grain of his parents’ expectations) and instead, decides to pursue his passion of poetry. Natasha, meanwhile, finally stands up to her father and tells him that it will no longer be acceptable for him to sit at home alone—he too must seek human connection in his own life and begin trying again to land acting jobs in Jamaica. All of this coalesces to show that Daniel and Natasha's relationship is much more than a fleeting romantic distraction: the connection, trust, and confidence they developed gave them the power and wherewithal to change their lives and the lives of others.
Though the thrust of Natasha and Daniel's relationship is the primary focus of the novel, it also illustrates an extreme version of the relationship between isolation and interconnectedness in the subplot concerning Irene. Irene is a security guard at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) building in Manhattan, and she desperately wishes that anyone passing through the doors would look at her. She eventually decides that her loneliness is too much to bear and plans to commit suicide. After Irene makes this decision, however, she's saved by a simple act of kindness from Natasha: in her joy and hope that her deportation notice will probably be overturned (a turn of events that she attributes to Irene holding her up that morning), Natasha calls the agent who helped her at the USCIS building, asking him to thank Irene. Even though Irene has no idea why Natasha called to thank her, that sliver of connection gives Irene the courage to seek help. She later goes on to follow her childhood dream of becoming a flight attendant, and takes great pride in her ability to comfort lonely or scared people on her airplane. Eventually, she's the one who draws Natasha and Daniel's attention to the fact that they're on the same flight—illustrating very clearly that for some, human connection isn't just something to take for granted. Rather, it's something that has the power to give people the will to live.
Isolation vs. Connection ThemeTracker
Isolation vs. Connection Quotes in The Sun is Also a Star
She glances up at me again but shows no sign that she recognizes me, even though I've been here every day for the last week. To her I'm just another anonymous face, another applicant, another someone who wants something from America.
One day in the future, the meaning of irie will move on, and it will become just another word with a long list of archaic or obsolete definitions. "Is everything irie?" someone will ask you in a perfect American accent. "Everything's irie," you will respond […] Neither of you will know about Abraham or the Rastafari religion or the Jamaican dialect. The word will be devoid of any history at all.
When they say the heart wants what it wants, they're talking about the poetic heart—the heart of love songs and soliloquies, the one that can break as if it were just-formed glass.
They're not talking about the real heart, the one that only needs healthy foods and aerobic exercise.
"Doesn't matter. People always ask where I'm from. I used to say here, but then they ask where are you really from, and then I say Korea. Sometimes I say North Korea and that my parents and I escaped from a water dungeon filled with piranhas where Kim Jong-un was holding us prisoner."
I was so surprised by that. I thought I knew everything about my mom—about both of them, really—but here was this secret history I didn't know about. I asked her why she stopped and she waved her hand in the air like she was wiping the years away.
Yes, she'd been frustrated with him for years, but that one moment showed us all how far apart they really were now. Even Peter, who sides with my mother in all things, flinched a little.
Still. You couldn't fault her. Not really. My father had been dreaming his life away for years. He lived in those plays instead of the real world. He still does. My mother didn't have time for dreaming anymore.
Neither do I.
Should I tell him about my father's aborted dreams? Should I tell him that I think dreams never die even when they're dead? Should I tell him that I suspect my father lives a better life in his head?
"I think all the good parts of us are connected on some level. The part that shares the last double chocolate chip cookie or donates to charity or gives a dollar to a street musician or becomes a candy striper or cries at Apple commercials or says I love you or I forgive you. I think that's God. God is the connection of the very best parts of us."
Sometimes I think my mom's worst fear is being disappointed. She combats this by trying her hardest never to get her hopes up, and urging everyone else to do the same.
"Yes," I say. "He would." But not because he's evil. And not because he's a Stereotypical Korean Parent. But because he can't see past his own history to let us have ours.
From this distance, the city looks orderly and planned, as if all of it were created at one time for one purpose. When you're inside it, though, it feels like chaos.
"What I care about is you, and I'm sure that love is enough to overcome all the bullshit. And it is bullshit. All the handwringing. All the talk about cultures clashing or preserving cultures and what will happen to the kids. All of it is one hundred percent pure, unadulterated bullshit, and I just refuse to care."
Because everything looks like chaos up close. Daniel thinks it's a matter of scale. If you pull back far enough and wait for long enough, then order emerges.
Maybe their universe is just taking longer to form.