Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther

Published: 2021-09-01 12:55:13
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Category: Book Reports

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In Death Be Not Proud, Johnny faces an overwhelming adversary for anyone, let alone a teenager: death. The poem by ##John Donne# that opens the memoir (Divine Meditation 10) is an attack on death, and, to an extent, Johnny and his family do attack his tumor--through operations, diets, injections, and so on. But more than that, Johnny seems to reach a placid acceptance of death while he fights it. He never tries to defy death, but, rather, he simply loves life too much to let it go. He twice exclaims, "But I have so much to do, and so little time," and the statement indicates not a fear of death but a desire to live. Johnny even says at one point, in what seems to contradict his optimistic outlook, that the "worst thing is to worry too little" about death. The implication is that one must not agonize over these questions of death but accept them as a battle. And, for Johnny, a battle it is: he endures surgery after surgery, physical debilitation, constant moves in and out of hospitals, and the loss of a normal adolescence, yet he rarely complains. When he does, it only shows the strength of his conviction to get well. Mostly, he keeps his fears to himself, not out of pride, but to spare others. Everyone who comes to know Johnny finds him remarkably courageous and mature about his fate, one that he rarely acknowledges but seems to be aware of deep down. Johnny, however, focuses on living his life--furiously keeping up with his lost schoolwork, crafting interesting science experiments, and maintaining contact with friends. While it may simply be good fortune that his life extended far past what the malignancy of his tumor normally would have permitted, one cannot read Death Be Not Proud and not feel that Johnny's unwavering bravery may have had something to do with it.

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