page 1 of 2
On the morning of her departure for Amsterdam Hazel wonders why certain foods, like scrambled eggs, have been labeled breakfast foods. Hazel and her mother go to Augustus's, and as they approach his door they hear crying and shouting. They turn back to the car, and minutes later Augustus emerges from his house, seemingly unaffected. At the airport Hazel must disengage her oxygen tank in order to pass through security. She describes feeling a certain freedom being without it momentarily. At the flight gate Augustus says he's hungry and leaves to get breakfast, but it's a long time before he returns. He says the line was long, and they talk about certain foods being stuck in the category of breakfast foods. Eventually Augustus admits the food line wasn't long. He didn't want to sit in the gate area with all the people there staring at them. It makes him extremely angry, and he doesn't want to feel angry today.
On the plane Hazel is astonished to learn that Augustus has never flown. He's afraid at first but fascinated as they takeoff. Hazel feels happy to see the excitably innocent Gus emerge from the “Grand Gesture Metaphorically Inclined Augustus.” Looking out at the sky from the plane window, Augustus quotes from An Imperial Affliction: “The risen sun too bright in her losing eyes.”
During the flight Hazel and Augustus watch the movie “300.” The movie is too violent for Hazel’s liking, though she revels in Augustus’s enjoyment of it. Afterward, the two discuss the total number of living people versus the total number of dead in the history of mankind. Augustus has actually researched it and says there are about fourteen dead people for every person that is currently living. Augustus asks Hazel to read aloud from Ginsburg’s Howl, which she's reading for class, but she chooses to recite a poem from memory instead. When she finishes, Augustus tells Hazel he loves her. He says he knows oblivion is inevitable, and he knows the sun will one day swallow the earth, and he loves her.
The trio arrives in Amsterdam and takes a cab to the Hotel Filosoof. Each of the hotel's rooms is named for a philosopher. Hazel and her mother stay in the Kierkegaard room while Augustus stays in the Heidegger room. After waking from a long nap Hazel is delighted to find that Lidewij has made reservations for her and Augustus at a restaurant called Oranjee. Hazel puts on her best summer dress and Augustus his most handsome suit. They take the tram to the restaurant admiring the scenic canals, boats, and old architecture along the way.
When they arrive at the restaurant they are ushered to a table outside overlooking the canal. The waiter brings them champagne on the house. The meal is like nothing either has ever experienced, each course more wonderful than the last. At Augustus’s request, Hazel recites the final lines of the “Prufrock” poem she recited part of on the plane. A woman on a passing boat raises her glass to them and shouts something in Dutch. When Augustus yells back that they don't understand, someone else offers a translation: “The beautiful couple is beautiful.” Augustus reveals that the suit he is wearing was originally intended for his funeral. He asks Hazel if she believes in an afterlife. She says “No” but makes it clear she's not totally certain. Augustus says he does. Augustus cites the same line he did on the airplane from An Imperial Affliction and explains his belief in God through it. He says he fears not having a meaningful life and doing something extraordinary, to which Hazel responds with annoyance that it's unfair of him to say that the only meaningful lives are the ones where people live or die for some cause.
After dinner as they walk Hazel asks Augustus what happened with Caroline, hoping to reassure herself that he'll be ok after she dies. Putting a cigarette in his mouth, he says people idealize kids with cancer, but the truth is that Caroline's brain cancer changed her personality. She died slowly over nearly a year, and she progressively became meaner toward Augustus. At the end he couldn't tell where her real personality ended and the effect of the cancer began. Hazel says she doesn't ever want to hurt him like that, but Augustus replies that it would be a privilege to have his heart broken by her.
Take a Study Break!