TFIOS Key Quotations . Analysis . The secret to good explanation. Use key words/phrases from the evidence you have given and explain what it tells us. Does it paint a picture? How would the character be feeling at this point? Link to other techniques.
Important points to consider:
The following examples give you an idea of how you should attempt explanation. Some examples are basic and others go further to show you how you could develop ideas further.
Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying, almost everything is, really.)
“Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.” (1.2)
This illustrates that character of Hazel has a unique perspective on her cancer as she doesn’t relate cancer to her depression but blames this on dying. She understands that this is a fate that will affect everyone in life, which shows her acceptance of the fact that she will die, as will everyone. It shows how philosophical Hazel is about her condition. It shows that Hazel’s life has been dominated by her illness and she has had to read and learn a lot about it. The fact that she speaks of her illness in such a forthright way, explains that she feels others have misconceptions about it and she knows the truth of it. This first person narrative gives the reader a more insightful view on teenage cancer.
“my mom believed I required treatment, so she took me to see my Regular Doctor Jim, who agreedthat I was veritably swimming in a paralyzing and totally clinical depression, and that therefore my meds should be adjusted and also I should attend a weekly Support Group.”
This again illustrates the lack of control that Hazel has over her own life, the reference to her “mom” and doctor Jim being in agreement” implies that Hazel exists on the periphery of their decisions about her life. It shows that he is very much involved in Hazel’s life. The fact that the depression is referred to as “paralyzing” shows the debilitating effect that it has on Hazel’s life, preventing her from moving forward. The fact the they say that Hazel is “veritably swimming” it is symbolic on many levels. It shows that there is no doubt about how low Hazel is feeling but more so “swimming” is an unusual word to use when discussing depression. It paints the picture of water, used throughout the story, not only because Hazel’s lungs frequently fill up with water but it highlights her struggle and fight against the way that she is feeling. It makes the depression seem like a more physical thing.
“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?”
The repetition shows that Hazel is thinking of how best she can explain to her mum how she really feels inside. It illustrates that she is hesitant initially but can’t hide her feelings any longer. She blows up, which shows us the strain/stress that her illness puts on her relationship with her mum. Hazel uses a metaphor to compare herself to a “grenade”, which conveys that she is eventually going to die and the “casualties” are the people that she will leave behind that she has gotten close to. This comparison is effective because a grenade is destructive like Hazel’s cancer and also there is an element of uncertainly about when it will go off, just like Hazel is unsure about when she will die. It conveys that she has no control over her illness or the devastation that it will inevitably cause.The question at the end is Hazel’s attempt to gain her mom’s reassurance and acceptance about show she feels and therefore give her a break.This illustrates the theme of isolation and helps us understand why Hazel shies away from friendships.
“I didn't tell him that the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You're a woman. Now die.” (when Hazel is at Augustus house)(2.13)
“I realize that this is the kind of deep and thoughtful question you always hoped your readers would ask—what becomes of Sisyphus the Hamster? These questions have haunted me for years—and I don’t know how long I have left to getanswers to them.”
“That was the worst part about having cancer; sometimes the physical evidence of the disease separates you from other people. We were irreconcilably other” (144).