I read The Fault in Our Stars for my book club and immediately knew I would have to make a bundle with lesson plans and activities. I am now reading the book for the twentieth time (not an exaggeration!) and what strikes me are the allusions.
Sometimes allusions are not intwined well in literature. They were added and seem forced, unnatural. With The Fault in Our Stars, the allusions emphasize the content and characters. You wouldn’t pull them out unless you are specifically looking for them. Allusions add to the novel – they are integrated well.
Take for instance the lines from Eliot’s poem:
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky.
Hazel recites these lines to Augustus as they travel to Amsterdam. The effect on Augustus is immediate – he tells Hazel that he loves her. In the poem, the couple could be Augustus and Hazel, traveling and doing non-cliche activities. (The lovebirds hate cliches, another favorite aspect of mine in The Fault in Our Stars).
The allusions to Julius Caesar and William Carlos Williams speak to the intellect of the book, and high school students are familiar with these topics. Once students recognize these allusions, hopefully they can carry that discovery to other literature.
The Fault in Our Stars lesson plans unit is a work in progress, and the first chapter is free so that teachers looking for teaching units for this novel can take a peek!
UPDATE: the novel unit is finished – check out my Unit Bundle for The Fault in Our Stars.