Plot Overview: Death Be Not Proud: a Memoir was a real life experience of a young boy’s illness told through his father’s perspective. The Gunther family consisted of divorced parents, John Sr. Gunther and Francis Gunther, along with their teenage son, Johnny Gunther. The family doctor, Dr. Traeger, examined Jonny while he was home from his boarding school on spring break. The doctor noted that he was in good health, but he had a stiff neck. Johnny returned to school where the school physicians thought something more serious was going on inside Johnny. He was whisked away in an ambulance to the Columbia- Presbyterian Hospital in New York where the doctors discovered a brain tumor and on April twenty ninth, Johnny had his first successful operation. However, the tumor was worse than the doctors had expected, the tumor had transformed into a glioblastomatous. Johnny distracted himself from the tumor and his illnesses by turning to his studies. Desperate, Johnny’s parents tried everything in their power to save their little boy. More surgeries, mustard gas, and a strict diet all helped to slow down the fierceness of the growing tumor. However, Jonny suffered from partial blindness and amnesia attacks, but he endured through his illness and graduated from high school. Johnny’s dream of attending Harvard never came true because on the night of June thirtieth, he died in his sleep. All of the doctors, treatments, and desperate measures did not save the young and precious life of Johnny Gunther.
Setting and Closing: In the memoir, Death Be Not Proud, the setting changed various times from Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut in the post World War II era. With each change in location the characters outlook on the situation dramatically changed. Located in Massachusetts was Johnny’s boarding school, Deerfield. During his illness, Johnny was completely focused on graduating with his classmates and attending Harvard. All throughout his stays in hospitals, Johnny yearned for the day when he could return to school. Johnny’s school put hope and faith into his soul. In New York, the enormous, modern, and cold hospitals changed the characters mood towards the cancerous tumor. While in surgery, Johnny’s parents were anxious while forced to wait. They also became desperate while inside the hospitals because the doctors never gave them all of the information. Johnny’s parents feared having to return to the hospitals because they knew that inside the walls life completely changed. Johnny despised the hospital; he lost his freedom and could not do any simple task by himself. The hospital drained Johnny emotionally and physically. He yearned for his hope, school, and he fought tirelessly against his tumor. Madison, Connecticut was home to the Gunther’s and during his last days, Johnny’s parent’s had taken him back home. Being back home relived all of the Gunther’s spirits even though Johnny’s condition was not getting any better. The atmosphere of familiar surroundings relaxed everyone’s tensions about the situation. The beginning of the memoir started with the birth of Johnny Gunther. His father explained his childhood; he was conceived in California, but born in Paris. He described Johnny as tall and lanky with bright blue eyes, shiny blond hair, and beautiful hands. His father also described all of Johnny’s talents and hobbies; drawing, trains, music, chess, animals and his studies. The closing scene of the novel entailed Johnny’s funeral. Johnny was dressed in a suit with a colorful striped tie. The Gunther’s said their goodbyes over the coffin where Johnny lay inside peacefully. Scarlet and white carnations filled the funeral home. His father stated that Johnny’s spirit was the factor that kept him alive for so long and he admired his son for being brave. The opening and closing scenes are logical because they concern the fact of life and death. The opening scene described the birth while the closing scene