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.