Life tip: bring a book with you everywhere you go
When someone judges people for liking a certain type of book
help me, i am trapped
in a haiku factory
save me, before they
I mean, that scene is word-for-word from the book, so don’t blame the movie! :) Yes, Gus is super pretentious at the start of the story. it’s a character flaw.
Gus wants to have a big and important and remembered life, and so he acts like he imagines people who have such lives act. So he’s, like, says-soliloquy-when-he-means-monologue pretentious, which is the most pretentious variety of pretension in all the world.
And then his performative, over-the-top, hyper-self-aware pretentiousness must fall away for him to really connect to Hazel, just as her fear of being a grenade must fall away. That’s what the novel is about. That is its plot.
Gus must make the opposite of the traditional heroic journey—he must start out strong and end up weak in order to reimagine what constitutes a rich and well-lived life.
Basically, a 20-second clip from the first five minutes of a movie is not the movie.
(Standard acknowledgement here that I might be wrong, that I am inevitably defensive of TFIOS, that it has many flaws, that there’s nothing wrong with critical discussion, and that a strong case could be made that I should not insert myself into these conversations at all.)
If you don’t understand this, you need to bump up your literary comprehension a lot.
There is so much of this stuff in my ask box, and most of it not even anonymous, but I don’t want to call out any particular user because I know they’ll then get a lot of hateful asks and the cycle will just continue.
First off, there’s a comma splice in your ask. I just have to let you know that, on account of how I’m a pretentious prick.
I hope that I’m not transphobic. I’ve been public and vocal in my support for the rights of trans people for years, and I’ve tried over the years to amplify trans voices, from T Cooper to Stephen Ira Beatty, rather than pretending to be able to speak for them.
Look, I am a person, and I am not a particularly good one. I am screwed up and make a lot of mistakes. But I am not a piece of trash. I would imagine that you are also screwed up and make a lot of mistakes, but you aren’t a piece of trash either.
But it is still hurtful—very hurtful—to hear people call me a piece of trash. It just makes me sad to hear, the way I think it would make most people sad to hear. The certainty and lack of nuance in that characterization reflects a broader lack of nuance in online discourse these days that just bums me out.
So this little cigarette right here has sparked a whole new brand of TFiOS hate, much of which is coming from people who claimed to love the book.
Many people are now pointing out how “pretentious” Augustus is, and I can’t help but think, You’re only just now realizing this. He was written to be a seemingly pretentious and arrogant person. The acknowledgement of this is actually highly important because, without it, the book loses the message that a hero’s journey is that of strength to weakness.
Augustus Waters has big dreams for himself. He wants to be known and remembered; he wants to be a hero; he wants to be seen as perfect. But there’s already something standing in his way… He has a disability, and society tells him that a person cannot be both perfect and disabled. So what does he do? He creates a persona for himself. He tries to appear older and wiser than he is. But the pretentious side of him is NOT who he truly is. It’s all an act. (This is evident in the fact that he often uses words in the wrong context.)
And when his cancer returns, we begin to see his mask cracking. The true Augustus begins to bleed through… Hazel even takes notice of this from time to time. And by the time we get to the gas station scene, Augustus is no longer the picture of perfection he was when we met him. The play has been canceled. The actor must reveal himself. And he’s revealed to be a weak, defenseless boy, succumbing to the cancer that is made of him.
THE PRETENTIOUSNESS IS INTENTIONAL. It stands to show Augustus’s journey from flawless to flawed, from strong to weak. It’s the key to understanding that Augustus was the hero he always wanted to be, even if he didn’t realized it.
querencia (n. Spanish)
a place where one feels safe,
a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn,
a place where one feels at home;
“the place where you are your most authentic self" ― John Jeremiah Sullivan
New Goodreads illustration! There is supposedly a downloadable poster version they’ll be releasing as well, so keep and eye on their site, if you’re a teacher or librarian or someone who likes books.
Also, Happy National Library Week!
Wow, I love libraries.