The novel, Death Be Not Proud, by John Gunther, is the story of the fight 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 disagreement to the fact that he was going to die and his determination not to, kept a powerful spirit in him so that he didn't give up. Johnny's stubborn determination to not accept defeat at his early age, along with the great courage he showed when realizing that he must accept his defeat, is a strong point told in this novel. Johnny's hope, determination, and courage kept his death at a stand still. One of the main reasons that Johnny remained alive for so much longer than he should have lived, was the hope that he had.
He hoped every day of his illness that he would get better, that his parents would be less sad, or that some doctor would come up with an idea that would heal him. Because of his hope, Johnny never complained or whined during the entire course of his illness. He always obeyed the doctors' wishes and followed their instructions because he wanted to get well so bad. Although he realized that eventually his life would end, he still never gave up the hope that perhaps he could outsmart death, or get away with living a few more hours then they expected.
Each day, the determination Johnny had to get well, live a normal life, and even maintain his schoolwork was rare. After being away from school for sixteen months, being tested constantly by doctors, and having a rapidly deteriorating brain, Johnny still managed to graduate with his class and be accepted into Harvard. Throughout his illness, Johnny always had an 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, he felt the bandage on his head and realized that he was living the nightmare. But even through disappointment, Johnny kept fighting to recuperate. Johnny should be admired for not giving up under the intense emotional burden of knowing that each breath might 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 love for others and not wanting to worry them 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 breath, there was still life in him, he was still determined to live. He died with a smile on his lips, without pain, with dignity, and with courage. Johnny's fight for life, against the hopeless odds, should send a message to anyone who has ever been ill. Through Johnny's hope, and courage when their about to die, and to become a hero.