Death Be Not Proud


The novel, Death Be Not Proud, by John Gunther, is the story of 
the struggle of a child to stay alive. Johnny Gunther Jr.'s constant 
hope got him out of bed every morning with a positive attitude. His 
outright opposition to the fact that he was going to die and his 
determination not to, kept a fiery spirit in him so that he didn't 
give up. Johnny's stubborn determination to not accept defeat at so 
early an age, along with the tremendous courage he showed when 
realizing that he must accept his defeat, is a strong point portrayed 
in this novel. Johnny's hope, determination, and courage kept his 
death at bay.

 One of the main reasons that Johnny remained alive for so much 
longer than he should have lived, was the hope that he possessed. He 
hoped every day of his illness that he would get better, that his 
parents would be spared their grief, or that some doctor would come up 
with a revolutionary idea that would heal him. Because of his hope, 
Johnny never complained or protested during the entire course of his 
illness. He always obeyed the doctors' wishes and followed their 
instructions to a "T" because he wanted so desparatly to get well. 
Although he realized that eventually his life would end, he still 
never gave up the hope that perhaps he could outsmart his fate to die, 
if just to steal a few extra hours.

 Each day, until his last, the determination Johnny had to get 
well, live a normal life, and even maintain his schoolwork was
phenominal. After being away from school for sixteen months, being 
tested constantly by doctors, and having a rapidly deteriorationg 
brain, Johnny still managed to graduate with his class and be accepted 
into Harvard. Throughout his illness, Johnny always had an unwavering 
will to survive, to awake the next morning and find that he was well, 
that he had only been dreaming the nightmare of his illness. When 
Johnny awoke each morning however, he felt the bandage on his head and 
realized that he was living this horrific nightmare. But even through 
this tremendous disappointment, Johnny kept fighting, determined to
recuperate. Johnny should be admired for not giving up under the 
intense emotional burden of knowing that each breath may be his last.

 Johnny's story is one that will be remembered because of the 
courage he had. If he had had any fears of death, they were unknown 
because of his consideration for others and not wanting to burden 
others with his troubles. One can only imagine what it must have been 
like to lie awake at night alone in a hospital room, wondering what it 
is like to die and to awaken the next morning, shed all questions and 
fears of the night before, and cheerfully greet those around you. 
Johnny's inner struggle and turmoil was something that no one knows 
nor will ever know. Throughout his many medical treatments and moments 
of pain, Johnny was always strong and brave. He always smiled and hung 
in there fighting. Even with his final unconcious breath, there
was still animation in him, he was still determined to live. 
Thankfully he died with a smile on his lips, without pain, with 
dignity, and with courage and strength to face the next world he would 

 Johnny's gallant fight for life, against the most hopeless odds, 
should convey a message to anyone who has ever been ill. Through a 
child's hope, determination and courage when about to die, a for of a 
hero is made. Johnny's manner in facing the awful reality of dying is 
something that is looked up to by all and we should all strive to 
achieve this manner. Johnny Gunther accepted his fate to die and not 
live his life to the fullest with complete acceptance, if not full 
understanding. By the story of his life and death, we are in awe of 
how one so young could have achieved an attitude that most people will 
never reach.


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