Death Be Not Proud: A Memoir
John Gunther successfully captured my attention in his memoir about his dying son entitled Death Be Not Proud: A Memoir. How Gunther managed to obtain my attention is through an emotional roller coaster of finding out that Johnny has a brain tumor, to fighting the idea of death, and eventually death taking Johnny’s life. This AP level piece of literature is a must read.
This memoir is a journey that can almost be described as a bell curve. The reason a bell curve best describes this journey is because the bell starts down low then eventually goes up exponentially and soon topples downward. That bell curve really captured my attention because John Gunther Junior was a 17 year old studious high scholar planning to attend Harvard, when suddenly Johnny and his family discover that Johnny has a brain tumor. Finding out Johnny has a brain tumor is the beginning part of the bell curve. The beginning stages of Johnny’s illness really captured me as an audience member reading the book because of the large scale questions about what can his family can get from Johnny’s death (if he were to die). He then goes on to say nothing beautiful will come from this, nothing compared to the beauty of the ballads that Beethoven made through his deafness or even the wonderful works Milton’s was able to create through his blindness. These questions illustrated Gunther losing hope that his son will get better. As Gunther’s attitude is plummeting, there is some hope that makes the bell curve suddenly go up exponentially when half of Johnny’s tumor is cut out. When half of the tumor was cut out it really compelled me because just when Johnny’s own father was doubting Johnny make through this, Johnny happens to pull through. Johnny begins to get caught up in school, sporadically feeling better. Then all good things must come to an end because the day before the Gunther family is leaving for vacation Johnny dies from cerebral hemorrhaging while in his sleep. Johnny’s dying is the topple down of this bell curve.
Gunther’s memoir is a monumental piece of literature that explores both trauma and triumph. Through the emotional journey of Johnny, Gunther writes this memoir in a way that illustrates the battle of death through what I said to appear to look like a bell curve. The structure of the bell curve is what captured my attention and made this one of the best books that I have read.