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The book "Death Be Not Proud," written by John Gunther, is the story of author John Gunther's son Johnny. Gunther writes this book in memory of his son. Gunther focuses on three main aspects that outline Johnny's life and the type of individual he was. The three main focuses Gunther depicts are: Johnny's mental and physical characteristics as those of an adolescent and an adult, his bravery and strength of will, and his distinctiveness of devotion to life.
The fictional novel time frame takes place from the year 1945 to 1947. The settings of the narrative are in three main places: Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. In Massachusetts, Johnny attends his much-loved school, Deerfield Academy. Johnny commonly exceeds in his academics, especially in theoretical science; he wanted to be either a physicist or a chemist. At Johnny's school, he is found to have a brain tumor. While battling his deadly disease, Johnny still maintains to receive his diploma and graduate from Deerfield. In the story, New York is where Johnny was repeatedly transferred to undergo multiple surgeries, mustard gas treatments, x-rays and other treatments to help his condition. In the story, Connecticut is where Johnny's parents, Gunther and Frances reside, it is his home town. Here, Johnny visits the family doctor, whom tells the family Johnny just has a stiff neck. While in Connecticut, Johnny's tumor worsens and he begins to develop other conditions, which make him very ill. In addition, Johnny also undergoes treatments in Connecticut, and eventually dies at a nearby hospital there.
One of the main characters in the book is Johnny. In the story, Gunther portrays many good qualities of his son. Johnny is depicted as an extraordinarily intelligent young man. Johnny devotes himself to his the sciences with both his mind and heart. Not only did he devote himself to his studies at school, he also made his school work a main precedence, while he was fighting for his life. Johnny is illustrated as very mature beyond his years, in his mental and physical characteristics as those of an adolescent and an adult. Johnny shows immense courage and bravery, as he does overlook his fate, he accepts it with dignity. He lives his life by doing as much good in the world as long as possible.
The second main character in the book is Gunther. Gunther is the father of Johnny and loved him exceedingly.
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The last main character in the book is Frances. Frances is the mother of Johnny. Frances and Johnny share a very strong bond with one another. Johnny's traits of intelligence and maturity are clearly acceded from Frances. Unlike Gunther, Frances is openly able discuss death with Johnny. Frances' openness about death, gives Johnny his courageous attitude toward death. Frances shares the strongest relationship with Johnny, and she highly values and admires Johnny's life love of life.
The story opens up in the year 1945. When Johnny returns home for spring break he visits the family doctor, Traeger, and his optometrist, whom of witch both say, that Johnny is in good health and that he is fine. When back at school, Dr. Johnson suspects Johnny's stiff neck could be a something more harmful to his health, so he take Johnny to the infirmary. Dr. Hahn, a neurologist, and Dr. Tracy Putnam, a specialist in tumors, both identify Johnny as having a brain tumor. When Gunther and Frances arrive at Deerfield, Gunther foreshadows his son's death by the looks upon the faces of the doctors, who were examining Johnny.
After undergoing a spinal tap, Johnny is sent by ambulance to the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, in New York. Given his situation, Johnny manages to stay optimistic and rational about his worsening condition. Johnny undergoes a long and tedious surgery, which only removes half of his large orange sized tumor. After the surgery, Johnny's condition becomes much worse, as they discover that the tumor is undergoing glioblastomatous transformation, a condition which holds potential of blindness, paralysis, and the predictability of death.
In the second chapter, after being discharged from the hospital, Johnny returns home to Connecticut, where he keeps himself occupied with his science workshop in the garage and visits from friends and relatives. When the bump on Johnny's head bursts open for a second time, he is taken to Dr. Wilder Penfield, who tells Gunther that the tumor will ultimately cause Johnny to see his demise. When a mustard gas treatment is discovered by Gunther in a newspaper, Johnny goes Memorial Hospital in New York, where he undergoes his first injection of mustard gas.
After the mustard gas treatment, Johnny goes back to the country, where he makes up his lost schoolwork. While conducting a difficult chemistry experiment, Johnny discovers a new property of ammonia. Johnny's bump then begins to leak again. Johnny is put on the Gerson diet by his parents, which upsets Johnny, but is ultimately agreed to by him.
By the third chapter, at the Gerson's nursing home Johnny's blood count drops significantly and his doctors feel that his death is very near. Johnny defies all odds and is feels better within a short amount of time. Frances plays a significant role, in keeping Johnny in exuberance by reading to him, bringing him gifts, and practicing his dancing with him for his senior prom. Although Johnny gets physically stronger, his bump worsens and he develops a second bump. Gunther informs Johnny that he can not return to school. This makes Johnny irate and he begins to make up for lost time trough tutoring. Gunther and Frances decide to send Johnny to the Neurological hospital, for emergency drainage due to his worsening condition. After the surgery, everyone believes that Johnny will be back to normal in about a year or so, because they believe the tumor is dead. Johnny is able to return home for a day a half, but is then readmitted into the hospital on Christmas night. In early February, Johnny is able to return home again because of Mounts claim that the tumor is dormant.
In chapter 4, many are surprised by the recovery Johnny has made, but in February 1947, Johnny's bump begins to grow again. Johnny wants get off the Gerson diet and return to school, but both requests are denied. This rejection only drives Johnny to work harder at his schoolwork, as he prepares himself for Harvard. Johnny is taken to the Neurological hospital, where the family is informed that Johnny glioma multiforme, a very deadly form of a tumor. Johnny goes to Neurological Hospital and undergoes surgery in which, Dr. Mount removes some of the tumor, but it is still very large. The Gerson's diet is no longer working, so Johnny is taken off of it.
In the last chapter, around mid May Johnny's tumor disappears, being replaced by a concavity, he is then released from the hospital. Johnny is told by the head master of Deerfield, that he will be given his diploma, due to his extra credits. Doctors repeat his previous treatments of mustard gas, x-rays, and the Gerson diet, and possibly another operation, in a more rapid order. Johnny is sent back to Memorial Hospital and suffers from attacks of amnesia and the shivers. Once back at home, Johnny seems to be getting worse, as he is then taken back to Memorial Hospital. He is then returned home, where gets a bad headache. Gunther calls both, Traeger and Mount over to examine Johnny, and thy both tell him that Johnny is even worse then before. Johnny is then transferred to a nearby hospital, where he is given extensive treatment. Johnny then goes to sleep and never wakes.
I feel that the author writes that this memoir is about death and what his son had to courageously endure, in an effort to give hope to others who have to deal with the pain of losing a loved one. Also, I feel that John Gunther achieved his goal, in the sense that it had a very emotional effect on my perspective of life. His style of writing was very lucid and the emotions endured were concisely depicted throughout the novel. This novel made me appreciate life in a much deeper state of mind.