Indeed, many political leaders and non-elite citizens believed Jefferson embraced the politics of the masses. “[I]n a government like ours it is the duty of the Chief-magistrate… to unite in himself the confidence of the whole people,” Jefferson wrote in 1810. 8 Nine years later, looking back on his monumental election, Jefferson again linked his triumph to the political engagement of ordinary citizens: “The revolution of 1800…was as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 76 was in it’s form,” he wrote, “not effected indeed by the sword…but by the rational and peaceable instrument of reform, the suffrage [voting] of the people.” 9 Jefferson desired to convince Americans, and the world, that a government that answered directly to the people would lead to lasting national union, not anarchic division. He wanted to prove that free people could govern themselves democratically.
Once their flutter of anxiety and fear had subsided, the hens sat quietly in the car, occasionally standing up to stretch a leg or a wing, all the while peering out from under their pale and pendulous combs (the bright red crest on top of chickens’ heads grows abnormally long, flaccid and yellowish-white in the cage environment) as I drove and spoke to them of the life awaiting. Then an astonishing thing happened. The most naked and pitiful looking hen began making her way slowly from the back seat, across the passenger seat separator, toward me. She crawled onto my knee and settled herself in my lap for the remainder of the trip.
Cancer creates a sense of urgency in the novel that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Because the characters are terminally ill, they view questions about life and its meaning very differently than their healthy counterparts, and their love is more meaningful to them than it might be to the average teenager. The reason is that death isn’t an abstraction to them. Hazel knows her cancer is terminal and that she will likely die before she becomes an adult. She also personally knows other kids who have died. Augustus has already had a girlfriend pass away from cancer. Because they know they likely have little time to live, they don’t have the luxury of figuring out what they believe about purpose and meaning over the course of several decades. The questions become immediate concerns that demand to be answered as soon as possible, whereas for healthy teenagers they’re more like philosophical questions. It also means that Hazel and Augustus realize their relationship may be the only significant one each has, even for Hazel who will likely live a few years, though perhaps not beyond that. As a result their love becomes that much more intense and meaningful.