Motifs and symbols

The water

Water is an important motif in John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars. Hazel is connected to the symbolism of water because her lungs are constantly filling with water due to cancer. In the novel's opening quote from Peter Van Houten's fictional novel, An Imperial Affliction, the danger that water poses to Hazel is formulated through an antithesis: "As the tide washed in, the Dutch Tulip Man faced the ocean: 'Conjoiner rejoinder poisoner concealer revelator. Look at it, rising up and rising down, taking everything with it.' 'What’s that?' I asked. 'Water,' the Dutchman said. 'Well, and time." (p. 7). 

Humans need water to drink in order to survive, but at the same time, water can kill when drowning or, as in Hazel's case, by flooding her lungs. Hazel metaphorically connects this frightening feeling of not being able to breathe with a flooded land: "[...] transmitting items from my plate into my mouth with a speed and ferocity that left me quite out of breath, which of course made me worry that my lungs were again swimming in a rising pool of fluid" (Chapter 5, 1%).

In Amsterdam, Hazel later compares herself to the Dutch city, which is famous for its many canals and its location on the water: "I was thinking a lot about how they’d made this place exist even though it should’ve been underwater, and how I was for Dr. Maria a kind of Amsterdam, a half-drowned ano...

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