Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On the Nature of True Love: Inspired by The Fault in Our Stars

A bit spoilery. Maybe read TFIOS before reading this.

I recently reread The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It is one of the most popular YA novels in recent years and is destined to become a classic. It is funny and heartbreaking and it is one of my favorite books of all time. But there is one part in the book that bothers me. It is when Isaac has just been dumped by his girlfriend and is talking to Hazel about true love:

' "I kept saying 'always' to her today, 'always always always,' and she just kept talking over me and not saying it back. It was like I was already gone, you know? 'Always' was a promise! How can you just break the promise?"
     "Sometimes people don't understand the promise they're making when they make them," I said.
     Isaac shot me a look. "Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That's what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway. Don't you believe in true love?"
     I didn't answer. I didn't have an answer. But I thought that if true love did exist, that was a pretty good definition of it. ' p. 60-61

'Love is keeping the promise anyway.'

When I read this part, I always think to myself, 'Um, no. No. Not even close.'

I can understand that some young people might think that this is a good definition of true love but when you think about it, it's actually a pretty poor one. 

Isaac's definition of true love isn't really about love at all. Isaac only says this because he wants his ex-girlfriend to have kept her promise to him. He feels that she owes it to him. I believe that true, unconditional love isn't about wanting anything from the other person. It isn't about holding them hostage because they made promises that they are unable to keep. Love is about accepting someone for who they are; it's about letting them go if they decide to walk away. Real love is nonjudgmental and contains no selfish wanting and no expectations. 

It is very clear that neither Isaac nor Monica know what true love is. Hazel's relationship with Augustus is closer to what true love really is. She's there for him until the very end, no matter how sick he gets. I suppose that's the point of the book. Isaac tries to define what true love is with words, while Hazel and Gus actually demonstrate it. 

So here's my definition of true love: 'Love is loving the person no matter what, even when they break their promise to you.'

So what do you think, my fellow bookworms? Do you agree with Isaac's definition? With mine? Totally disagree with both and have your own definition of true love? Let me know in the comments! 

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