EN 429 Studies in Performance Rotating Header Image

The Fault in Our Stars Facilitation

After viewing The Fault in Our Stars and going on an emotional adventure with the main characters Hazel and Gus, the topics to discuss during class were apparent. I met up with my facilitation partners to discuss what aspects of the movie they found evident and would want to go over in class. A google doc was then made of the most important things we found in the movie. The topics we wanted to cover were the reaction towards the movie, optimism, oblivion, perspectives from loved ones and cancer blogs. We started class of with a group discussion asking the class do they think young adults with an illness can relate to this movie and why. The reactions seem to be more yes than no. Our goal was for at least some of the yes people to change their view by the end of class with the information presented.

We found an article that went with the common theme of Optimism. Gus always encouraged Hazel to live a more optimistic life because when first introduced to her character, she was pessimistic.  She was more set on dying and making her parents happy versus living which as a group, we wanted to converse with the class on how Gus changed her views. We also pointed out the point that Gus separated Hazel from her cancer. With him doing this, he wanted to show her that there is more to the world then just her cancer. He was showing her to be optimistic indirectly. According to Deardorff, researchers in the positive-psychology field aren’t advocating “mandated cheerfulness,” or even encouraging positive thinking among people managing life-threatening illnesses. Instead, “people should not be discouraged from holding positive beliefs and expectations”(Deardorff). When reading the article on optimism, something that was surprisingly found was that being positive cannot lead to recovery. Like the movie, the most optimistic person, Gus, does die in the end. Optimism cannot send your body into recovery but it can make your last days on earth better.

Along with optimism, oblivion was another important aspect that was discussed in class. Gus and Hazel’s view on oblivion were divergent but collided by the end. Hazel does not mind oblivion because she believes that the world is going to end up regardless and no one will be remembered because the earth will no longer exist. Gus does not want to fall into oblivion because he wants to be remembered. Eventually, they came to an agreement that what matters is who you are remembered by if it be just family and friends or the world. This led to an activity done in class where we discussed different cancer blogs that could compare to Gus or Hazel’s view on the world. We discussed blogs from different ages and different viewpoints. One blog that was shown was from a girl who is a young adult that made the blog for others who are living with cancer. Most of the class felt that she related to Hazel because she did not need to do this for fame but to help others and gain friendships that would matter to her. We then discussed another video blog by a kid makeup artist who is now deceased. The class felt that she reflected more of Gus because she did leave a legacy behind and was very well known.

We then moved on to discussing family member’s reaction to cancer and how certain family members in the movie dealt with their children having cancer. There was Hazel’s mother, Frannie and then Van Houten. With Frannie, she dealt with Hazel’s condition by dedicating all of her time to her. But by the end the viewer finds out that she was going to school and wanted to help other parents that are put into similar situations as her. Then Van Houten deals with it by turning into an alcoholic. A class discussion was then talked about the different ways to deal with cancer. Some classmates discussed how they deal with cancer when it interfered with the lives of people they knew rather it be family or classmates.

We then ended class with the discussion by asking the same question again if they felt young adults with an illness could relate to this movie and the replies were a bit stagnate. The number of no’s did increase slightly which made the presentation a success.



Work Cited:

 Deardorff, Julie. “Optimism Can Help, Hinder Patients.” Chicago Tribune. Tribune Newspapers, 23 Sept. 2010. Web. 06 Feb. 2015.

The Fault in Our Stars. Dir. Josh Boone. Amazon Instant Video, 2014. DVD.

Reading Response 1

The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde and W;t by Margaret Edson are two novels that both deal with  the topic of cancer. They have similarities and differences but are separated by the end of the novel. They both address cancer with a serious tone and are aware that death could be a possible outcome. They are also both emerged in literature and use it as a way of dealing with their own treatments. By analyzing each novel, the tone will be discussed and it will show how each novel are unconnected.

In the Cancer Journals, Lorde is at a point where remission could be a possible outcome for her journey. She has had a mastectomy and is still on going with treatments of chemotherapy. All throughout her journal, she feels a sense of hope to overcome cancer and the obstacles it throws at her. Issues that arise during her journey are letting cancer consume her life, which she does not want to happen. She makes an honest attempt to keep a positive outlook on her life. She uses this journal to talk about her experience and to keep her driving to remission. Even when her days are filled with anguish, she still wants to obtain the positivity that this experience brings. She says, “Spring comes, and still I feel despair like a pale cloud waiting to consume me, engulf me like another cancer, swallow me into immobility… I need to remind myself of the joy, the lightness, the laughter so vital to my living and my health” (Lorde 10). By her keeping an encouraging spirit, the audience may look at this to be an uplifting piece of work. She shows that she is still human and has days that are difficult but she does not give up. She fights for her life every second. Her key points are find faith to keep living and embrace the changes because once someone goes through something as traumatic, they will never be the same person again.

W;t by Margaret Edson shows a portrayal of a fictional character named  Dr. Vivian Bearing who before finding out she had cancer, was engulfed in her work as a professor of literature. While she is in the hospital, there are constant reminders of her work such as her former student who is now her doctor. While undergoing her treatment, she uses Metaphysical Poetry by John Donne as a way of avoiding her cancer. Anytime she enters treatment, she goes into a deep state of reciting the poems or a moment when she was teaching the holy sonnets to her class. Dr. Bearing cannot seem to get away from her work and address her cancer. She also deals with a sense of how to deal with something that is not in her control. She tries to control the situation she gets in with doctors but they are treating her as just another patient. During the novel, she does not seem to grasp a sense of hope. When in isolation, she has become pessimistic about her treatment option. She says, “I am not in isolation because I have cancer, because I have a tumor the size of a grapefruit. No. I am in isolation because I am being treated for cancer. My treatment imperils my health” (Edson 47).  Some key points that are seen in the novel is that one can only fight for so long and that giving up is a feasible option.

The differences between the Lorde and Bearing are concrete when reading both works. There stages of cancer are both different which can be a contributing factor in the way they both look at cancer. Lorde has a greater chance of survival which can lead to her reason for her positive outlook on what is happening to her. Bearing is tackling an aggressive cancer that is in its final stages. She knows that her chance of making it out is significantly low and that her treatment is experimental, so the outcome may not be good. So when the nurse asks her if she wants to be revived, she declines. We see towards the end of the introduction for Cancer Journals, that Lorde has entered remission. By the end of W;t, Dr. Bearing has died. Both end on a different note and leave a different tone. W;t leaves the audience feeling a sense of sadness but also peace because she no longer has to go through treatment. The Cancer Journal leaves the audience with a feeling of success because she has overcome her battle with cancer. She had a powerful outlook and it payed off. Both novels, ending separately but showing that each battle with cancer is not the same.


Work Cited:

 Edson, Margaret. W;t. London: Nick Hern. 1999. Print.

Lorde, Audre. “Introduction.” The Cancer Journals. Argyle, NY: Spinsters, Ink 1980. 7-15. Print.

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