Cover to Cover: The Fault in Our Stars, Ch 12 Part 3

Guys, guys. We are finally nearing the end of the longest freaking chapter in the world.

Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!

And unfortunately for me, the site I was using to bootleg the book is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. It’s a — okay, I’ll stop now. Anyway, you can find the book here for now, and I’m sure when this gets taken down I’ll find another place to get my electronic Green goodies.

So we’ve found ourselves at the top of the staircase, where Sunshine is collapsed and desperately struggling to breathe. It would be genuinely moving and beautiful if I wasn’t sitting here wondering why your mom isn’t here to help deal with things like that, instead of your cancerous-but-oh-wait-that’s-totally-a-surprise-I-will-not-see-coming boyfriend and a stranger who’s inexplicably decided to pay for your visit (with Van Houten’s money, I’m sure).

Yeah, apparently I’m pretty bad at empathy.

What? No, I care, really.
What? No, I care, really.

Anyway, they remember that this is a museum for Anne Frank and decide to have a look around:

The book was turned to the page with Anne Frank’s name, but what got me about it was the fact that right beneath her name there were four Aron Franks. Four. Four Aron Franks without museums, without historical markers, without anyone to mourn them.

You’re in the Anne Frank House! How can you choose now to start whining about how you’re not going to get a museum when you die?

Okay, you think that’s unfair? Maybe she’s just feeling really bad for those Arons, and not for herself? I’d be inclined to agree with you, except for a little conversation she had with Mr. Psycho way back in Chapter 10, when they angsted about how not all the dead will be remembered. Or that bit in Chapter 11 where they mope about how their lives aren’t going to matter and thus they won’t be remembered.

I’m a little skeptical that this bit isn’t about her.

Apparently my mood today is "Nicki Minaj." I am totally okay with this.
Apparently my mood today is “Nicki Minaj.” I am totally okay with this.

So they consider actually talking about the atrocities for, like, half a second, before moving on to a much more important topic:

“Are there any Nazis left that I could hunt down and bring to justice?” Augustus asked while we leaned over the vitrines reading Otto’s letters and the gutting replies that no, no one had seen his children after the liberation.

“I think they’re all dead. But it’s not like the Nazis had a monopoly on evil.”

“True,” he said. “That’s what we should do, Hazel Grace: We should team up and be this disabled vigilante duo roaring through the world, righting wrongs, defending the weak, protecting the endangered.”

Although it was his dream and not mine, I indulged it. He’d indulged mine, after all. “Our fearlessness shall be our secret weapon,” I said.

“The tales of our exploits will survive as long as the human voice itself,” he said.

“And even after that, when the robots recall the human absurdities of sacrifice and compassion, they will remember us.”

“They will robot-laugh at our courageous folly,” he said. “But something in their iron robot hearts will yearn to have lived and died as we did: on the hero’s errand.”

nope

Oh boy, where do I begin?

  1. Look at all the “said”! Seriously, Green, come up with a new word.
  2. Nazis are still alive and politically active (WARNING: This link will make you depressed). Seriously, how dumb are you? I learned that in middle school.
  3. I appreciate that half a sentence in the first paragraph where you pretended to care about the heartbreaking tragedy. It was really moving, and I could feel the raw emotion.
  4. And then you move on to what you really wanted to talk about: yourselves, and how you wish you’d be remembered forever like Anne Frank. I hate you both so much.

And then . . . there’s the scene.

Everyone knows the scene. People have spilled so much ink writing about why this scene is absolutely terrible, and people have spilled at least as much telling those first people why they’re overreacting.

Okay, let’s get it out and quickly and painlessly as possible: Sunshine and Mr. Psycho make out in the Anne Frank House.

Sunshine and Mr. Psycho make out in the Anne Frank House.

I . . . don’t even know where to begin. What do you say about that?

No, really. I have nothing.

There are my notes.
There are my notes.

Luckily, I’m not alone in march of tears and rage. The Giddy Owl, a loyal reader and one of the funniest bloggers I’ve ever read, decided to help a lady in distress and tackle this infamous scene. Go follow her; she’s good people. You can — and should — read the entire post here, but I’m going to give you guys a few of my favorite bits.

Giddy? The floor is yours.

tumblr_n02tp43kQK1sborufo1_500

As with my guest in Chapter 9, Green quotes will be in quote form, Giddy’s comments will be bold, and my cheerleading/unfunny jokes will be normal.

“Augustus Waters,” I said, looking up at him, thinking that you cannot kiss anyone in the Anne Frank House,

Because that would be incredibly disrespectful.

and then thinking that Anne Frank, after all, kissed someone in the Anne Frank House

That “someone” was Peter van Pels, a sixteen year old who was hiding in the Annex with his parents Hermann and Auguste van Pels and the Frank family. So tell me, Sunshine, exactly where were they going to go kiss if they couldn’t leave the Annex for fear of being caught by the Gestapo?

and that she would probably like nothing more than for her home to have become a place where the young and irreparably broken sink into love.

Well we don’t know what she would think now since she, y’know, died in a concentration camp. But who am I to say that this museum that preserves the memories of eight people who had to live, starve, keep quiet and go without electricity and water in an annex of a business in order to not be caught by the Gestapo not be a romantic setting?

Obviously Anne would think it was the most romantic thing ever. In fact, I like to think of her ghost standing over them as they coat each other’s tongues in saliva, watching with the giddy approval of a young, girlish teenage —

Sorry. Couldn't get through that.
Sorry. Couldn’t get through that.

My hand let go of the oxygen cart and I reached up for his neck, and he pulled me up by my waist onto my tiptoes. As his parted lips met mine, I started to feel breathless in a new and fascinating way. The space around us evaporated, and for a weird moment I really liked my body; this cancer-ruined thing I’d spent years dragging around suddenly seemed worth the struggle, worth the chest tubes and the PICC lines and the ceaseless bodily betrayal of the tumors.

Seriously, go to Giddy’s page if you haven’t already. I can’t top her joke.

Hey, you know what I just thought of? Hazel should have brought her mother along with her, and her mother would have a) prevented Hazel and Augustus from making out in an inappropriate place and b) probably would have felt the same way as Otto Frank and conveyed those feelings to Hazel, and they could have a bonding moment. Green was already (quite nicely, in my opinion) comparing how confined and restricted Hazel feels in her body when she was climbing up the steep, narrow staircases within the walls that confined Anne Frank, so why not do so here? It would make sense, and it would give Hazel’s mother a reason for being in Amsterdam other than being a chaperon who isn’t even chaperoning.

Giddy's pic, but too good not to share.
Giddy’s pic, but too good not to share.

My strigiformic friend here has a tendency to take Green’s characters and ideas and make them a million times better than they would be otherwise. It’s like spinning straw into gold, and you don’t want my firstborn for this, right? Because that wasn’t part of the agreement.

For some reason, Anne Frank’s father plays in the background of the kiss. I don’t know what to make of it, though Giddy thinks Otto Frank’s words are just there to emphasize the blatant point that Hazel is acting differently than she usually does and in a way her parents wouldn’t expect. I mean, it’s not like Sunshine hasn’t been making this about herself the entire time, so I’ll buy it.

I realized that my eyes were closed and opened them. Augustus was staring at me, his blue eyes closer to me than they’d ever been, and behind him, a crowd of people three deep had sort of circled around us.

I would like to take this moment to say that, as horrible and thoughtless as this make-out passage was, I could believe it because being completely self-absorbed is a very common trait for this age group, and for good reason! You don’t just flip a switch from a self-absorbed child to a completely selfless teenager. Shit, I’ve known twenty-year-olds who even made out in the catacombs of Paris, and that place is dark, damp, and literally piled with centuries-old skeletons.

John Green would make it "romantic."
John Green would make it “romantic.”

They were angry, I thought. Horrified. These teenagers, with their hormones, making out beneath a video broadcasting the shattered voice of a former father. I pulled away from Augustus, and he snuck a peck onto my forehead as I stared down at my Chuck Taylors.

While I can believe this sort of behavior, I’m not going to condone it. One of the things you learn as you grow up is how to think outside yourself and to put others’ needs first (like respect for the dead) ahead of your own needs. Hey, slip-ups happen, but the main thing is that you learn from your mistakes and become a much more well-rounded adult. However, it’s usually difficult to know that you even made a mistake until someone calls you out on it. I’ve made mistakes that people have called me out on it, and I know I’d be of poorer character if they didn’t and if I didn’t take what they said in consideration. It’s hard, but it’s one of the most important lessons to learn.

And then they started clapping. All the people, all these adults, just started clapping, and one shouted “Bravo!” in a European accent.

Haha, I just realized I love watching other people be made miserable by this garbage! This is so much fun when I’m not the one suffering!

Giddy
Giddy
Me
Me

Augustus, smiling, bowed. Laughing, I curtsied ever so slightly, which was met with another round of applause.

Giddy
Giddy
Me
Me

Man, can I get people to do this for me every week?

the Anne Frank House, Otto Frank, and Anne Frank are used as props for a fictional romance about two self-obsessed teens that are told that it’s okay to ignore the real horrible things that happened to these real people in this real house.  Of course, what else am I to expect when John Green says this about his use of Anne Frank in the novel:

Q: Why did you decide to throw in the story of Anne Frank alongside these fictional young women whose lives are also cut short?

Green: Anne Frank was a pretty good example of a young person who ended up having the kind of heroic arc that Augustus wants—she was remembered and she left this mark that he thinks is valuable—but when he has to confront her death, he has to confront the reality that really she was robbed of the opportunity to live or die for something. She just died of illness like most people. And so I wanted him to go with a sort of expectation of her heroism and be sort of dashed.

Wow. I mean . . . Jesus.

You know, a lot of people say those who are offended by this scene are “taking things too seriously,” “are too easily offended,” and “need to lighten up.”

I’m starting to think we aren’t taking this seriously enough.

Basically Green's response.
Basically Green’s response.

Giddy has a really fascinating description of what happened to Anne and her sister, but for word count reasons I’m going to let you check that out and just have her leave us with this:

Yes, what finally killed Anne Frank was typhus. It was typhus she contracted while being held prisoner in a concentration camp where she was separated from her family, starved, worked until exhaustion, and suffered the worst that humanity had to offer. To say that she “just died of an illness like most people” is ignoring the true historical events that led Anne Frank to her grave.

The visitors of the Anne Frank House applaud Hazel and Augustus’s complete and utter disrespect of the place where Anne Frank had to hide in for two years because neither they, John Green, nor the text see Anne Frank as a person worth of respect. I guarantee you that if they had an ounce of respect for her, this scene would not have gone down the way that it did. Hazel and Augustus could have kissed before going to the Anne Frank House.  Hazel and Augustus could have left the house and kissed. They could have kissed on the cranky Peter Van Houten’s welcome mat. There are literally dozens of ways that Hazel and Augustus could have had a first kiss that didn’t disrespect Anne Frank’s memory. Green chose otherwise. Whether he chose consciously or unconsciously I honestly don’t give a flying fuck.

Pictured: A more respectful treatment of Anne Frank's memory. And it's a joke.
Pictured: A more respectful treatment of Anne Frank’s memory. And it’s a joke.

Well, after that . . . thing we just read, they go back to the hotel, probably to meet back up with Sunshine’s mom, tell her everything that happened, and get some dinner, maybe including a somber conversation mulling over what they’ve learned from the museum and —

Augustus: “God, you are sexy.”

Me: “We could go to your room.”

Augustus: “I’ve heard worse ideas.”

There is no reason for this to be in script form; it isn’t addressed before, after, or during, and it makes no sense as a stylistic or symbolic choice. I’m choosing to focus on this, because I really don’t want to deal with the sex scene that’s coming up.

Finally the elevator lurched to a halt, and he pushed the mirrored door open. When it was half open, he winced in pain and lost his grip on the door for a second.

“You okay?” I asked.

After a second, he said, “Yeah, yeah, door’s just heavy, I guess.” He pushed again and got it open. He let me walk out first, of course, but then I didn’t know which direction to walk down the hallway, and so I just stood there outside the elevator and he stood there, too, his face still contorted, and I said again, “Okay?”

“Just out of shape, Hazel Grace. All is well.”

giphy

Gee, I wonder if it’s his totally-unexpected-relapse-of-death-cancer? Which . . . didn’t bother him on the thousands of stairs in the Anne Frank house for some reason.

We were just standing there in the hallway, and he wasn’t leading the way to his room or anything, and I didn’t know where his room was, and as the stalemate continued, I became convinced he was trying to figure out a way not to hook up with me, that I never should have suggested the idea in the first place, that it was unladylike and therefore had disgusted Augustus Waters, who was standing there looking at me unblinking, trying to think of a way to extricate himself from the situation politely.

That seems like an irrational response to a few moments of silence. Also you literally said he’s in pain. Wouldn’t you assume that maybe he’s, I don’t know, hurt or something instead of flipping out and automatically making it about you?

melodramatic

And then, after forever, he said, “It’s above my knee and it just tapers a little and then it’s just skin. There’s a nasty scar, but it just looks like—”

“What?” I asked.

“My leg,” he said. “Just so you’re prepared in case, I mean, in case you see it or what—”

“Oh, get over yourself,” I said

Are you kidding me? After all your self-absorbed nonsense this entire book, and especially this chapter? He was being vulnerable, you awful, nasty . . .

Okay, let’s just get to the end. They bone:

The whole affair was the precise opposite of what I figured it would be: slow and patient and quiet and neither particularly painful nor particularly ecstatic. There were a lot of condomy problems that I did not get a particularly good look at. No headboards were broken. No screaming. Honestly, it was probably the longest time we’d ever spent together without talking.

wow-gif-aubrey-plaza-not-impressed-sarcastic-safety-not-guaranteed

I don’t want to judge anyone for their sexual choices, but this . . . is painfully unromantic. I almost wonder if Green’s trying to keep kids from wanting to have sex.

Oh, who am I kidding? He’s just mocking other sex scenes to prove how witty and cool and not-like-those-other-losers he is, obviously.

Anyway, she decides to skip out, because I guess she’s as unimpressed with this chapter as I am, and leaves him a note:

tumblr_inline_mie81neM0s1qz4rgp

Well . . . all right, then. Good thing Sunshine cured you of that pesky virginity, because apparently that was all this scene was supposed to be about.

Oh, whatever. I’m following Sunshine out of here! Be sure to thank The Giddy Owl and I’ll see you next week!

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7 thoughts on “Cover to Cover: The Fault in Our Stars, Ch 12 Part 3

  1. Thank you again very much for letting me be apart of this.

    “Oh, who am I kidding? He’s just mocking other sex scenes to prove how witty and cool and not-like-those-other-losers he is, obviously.”

    YES. YES HE IS VERY MUCH SO. Like I’ve read sex scenes where the protagonist goes “oh hey this isn’t like the porno I imagined it would be” but not be anything pretentious and blah like TFIOS does. I’ve written WoW goblin fade-to-black-sex more romantic than this. *puts horn away*

    AND OMG THE NOSTALGIA CHICK’S ANNE FRANK MOVIE POSTER SQUEEE! But yeah, that joke worked because it highlighted how terrible romanticizing history can be. And omg I forgot that Hazel and Augustus were all “la la all the Nazis are dead.” No, no they’re not. They’re still here and part of the group of Holocaust deniers that have time and again attempted to discredit Anne Frank and family’s death. The willful ignorance is so strong in this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for contributing to it! Your stuff is hilarious.

      Green’s constantly trying to prove he’s one of the cool kids, and it really embarrassing. Or it would be, if people didn’t consistently fall for it. (Also, how is goblin sex NOT supposed to be better than this? All I read is goblin sex.)

      The second I read your notes on disrespecting Anne’s memory, I knew I had to find that picture. Because you’re right; it works so well. I’m trying to figure out if the inaccurate stuff — the peculiar egg vendetta, the dead Nazis — is supposed to showcase how dumb Hazel is, or if Green really just doesn’t bother doing even the bare minimum of research.

      (P.S. I’ve been holding on to that Daniel Radcliffe gif for MONTHS, waiting for a time to use it. It was really exciting to be able to deploy it, because the second I saw it I knew it had to be in here somewhere.)

      Like

      • Yesss! You found it on nerdfighter fighter’s tumblr, didn’t you? >:) I watched the original skit and HOLY SHIT it was so on point. My friend’s reading this and she made the observation that the reason why Otto Frank is talking over the kiss scene is to emphasis how “cool” and “rebellious” Hazel and Augustus are, and holy shit it makes so much more sense than my original interpretation.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes I did! So . . . probably not months, but still. Weeks. Long periods of time.

          That’s . . . actually way worse, though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great interpretation (though yours is awesome too, and it can be both), but that means Green knew EXACTLY how terrible it was and did it anyway. No, he did it BECAUSE it’s terrible. That’s, like, Batman-villain behavior.

          Like

  2. I read this article a little while ago, and have been meaning to sling it at you in the comments section. Now seems like the best time:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/business/media/the-barbed-pen-behind-the-best-sellers-of-young-adult-fiction.html

    This absolutely fascinates and confounds me. 1: That the first draft of this might have been even worse, but 2: That an editor who is apparently known for being tough as nails looked at the Anne Frank make-out scene and went, “Yep. Yes. Good. Cut and print.” I mean, God, the crowd of clapping onlookers? That’s bad-reddit-comment level of unbelievable storytelling.

    But hey, the beautiful couple is beautiful, so who am I to judge? Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s depressing. I genuinely can’t imagine a worse version of this . . . and for all the acclaim that editor’s getting, she did her job TERRIBLY. I mean, Green’s writing fails in its very basics. She should’ve tossed that book in the rejection pile long before Anne Frank.

      Like

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