Why Is Gus' Dead Girlfriend Missing from 'The Fault In Our Stars' Movie?
I saw The Fault In Our Stars almost 24 hours ago, and I still haven't totally shaken off that gut-wrenching ending. As a fan of John Green's novel, I knew that the story would reach a heartbreaking conclusion, but that didn't make seeing it on the big screen much easier. Though the film was largely faithful to the novel, watching the film was a completely different experience from reading the book, and I'm happy to conclude that both are great works of art in their own right. But while the film did stay mostly true to its source material, The Fault In Our Stars ignored Gus's dead girlfriend and I think I know why.
As with any book-to-film adaptation, there are a few changes to the story and the way in which some plot points play out. However, at first, I found this omission a little puzzling. In the novel, Augustus has a girlfriend prior to Hazel, Caroline. Gus admitted that Caroline, in her sick state, would make cruel comments, such as taunting him for having a prosthetic leg. Gus never really knew if it was her personality or her illness that made her behave so cruelly, but regardless, he "couldn't dump" a girl with a brain tumor. Caroline eventually passes away from her illness, which means that Gus never had to.
It's interesting that such a major character in the books (albeit a character that had died previous to the events of the novel) would be wiped out of the movie version. Caroline and Gus's relationship shapes how Gus views the world — after all, he has already seen one person he cared about die, and knows that he doesn't want to leave behind a legacy like that of Caroline's. It also explains why, exactly, Gus was staring at Hazel during the support group where they first meet. In their sick states, Caroline and Hazel look remarkably similar.
Perhaps the internalized competition Hazel feels between her and Caroline is why the filmmakers chose to remove Caroline from the story completely. When I first read the novel, I felt that Caroline's presence put a strange cloud over Gus and Hazel's relationship. Gus is clearly Hazel's first love, and for Hazel to know that Gus once loved someone prior to her in such similar circumstances felt... odd.
Hazel herself has questions about Gus' former relationship, and even goes so far as to cyber stalk Caroline to find the answers. Eventually Gus gives Hazel a satisfying answer, but prior to that moment the reader does question Gus' motives for chasing Hazel, and it makes him appear less genuinely interested in Hazel as a person. Later we learn the truth, but Gus' past complicates the way in which he and Hazel fall in love.
We are supposed to get wrapped up in Hazel and Gus' love story in the film. Perhaps the filmmakers wanted to make sure of that by avoiding any questions of Gus' true feelings towards Hazel. Without Caroline in the film, Hazel can accept that Gus loves her for who she is — she only questions if she can let him love her despite her illness.
Though Caroline was an interesting character to include in the novel — which had ample time to showcase Hazel's internal feelings about Gus' former love — the film didn't need her to tell their version of the love story. As a film, The Fault In Our Stars works without her.