Green’s brilliance is that of an emerald.

by joanabagano

Okay, so ignore the corny title. I’ve been reading through http://onlyifyoufinishedtfios.tumblr.com which is basically just (no it’s not just I have to randomly stop using just in every sentence) a website where John Green answers readers’ questions about The Fault In Our Stars. Here’s one of the more interesting answers I came upon.

Question: Something like why Gus became meaner as he drew closer to death (I couldn’t copy the question for some Green reason). Ooh I just left-clicked on it and it’s a picture! But I’m too lazy to copy it here, wait, it’s just gonna take me 3 seconds. (indecision irritation)

the end when Gus is dying, is he getting… I don’t want to say “meaner” but almost Caroline-like? During the scene when they’re in the basement playing video games toward the end after he wet the bed, he seemed less charismatic than before (to me at least). Was this intentional or am I just over analyzing the story? Thank you!

Here’s John’s answer (ooh, I love this, gogogo):

I am really bothered by the idea that people in pain who are being wrenched from existence should be perpetually cheerful and compassionate about it.

More generally, I wrote this book partly because I was tired of reading stories in which dying or chronically sick people served no purpose in the world except to teach the rest of us to be Grateful For Every Moment or whatever. Making the lives of the dying about the betterment of the social order for the well really offends me, because it implies that the dying are already dead, and that their lives have less intrinsic meaning than other lives.

I wanted to try to reflect dying as honestly as I could, and part of that is frustration and anger and shortness and fear. Gus is supposed to seem less charismatic and less heroic (at least by standard definitions of heroism) as he gets weaker, but he is more human, and the love they share is more human and more sustainable than the performed, monologue-laden love they both initially think of as perfect.

We have this cultural idea—some of this is due to certain interpretations of Christianity that have held sway over our culture—that humans are made more heroic and more perfect through dying and death, that dying elevates us to perfection. Romantic epics tend to further that idea, but I didn’t want to: I wanted to show that people in dying often become weaker and more human, but that this humanness is what is actually heroic, not grand gestures of sacrificial suffering.

In my opinion, actual heroism, like actual love, is a messy, painful, vulnerable business—and I wanted to try to reflect that.

See that? So if you haven’t read TFiOS yet, why are you even waiting???

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