Analysis

Persistence pays off in this section for all Gunther family members. Frances continues searching tirelessly for a miracle cure, just as her previous searches led her to the mustard gas and Gerson. Johnny, of course, remains diligent in his academics. His eagerness to make up for his lost schoolwork is another case of his fighting against time when he knows death is imminent, a fact he otherwise conceals—he repeats his previous remark, "I have so much to do, and there's so little time!" One gets the impression that Johnny humbly believes that the real tragedy of his short time left is that he will lose the opportunity to contribute important findings to the scientific world. As with his unforeseen medical recovery, he disproves his tutors, who think he cannot pass his exams without more preparation. He does this, of course, while enduring an austere, tasteless diet and painful enemas, but he keeps his head up.

Gunther, too, connects more deeply with Johnny, partially through his persistence, and his discussions with his son about his new book bond them in new, more adult ways. While Gunther feels that Johnny has a more intimate relationship with Frances than with him, he is not jealous and seeks other ways for them to unite. All decisions about Johnny's health, which become more complicated as his condition worsens, must be made by both Gunther and Frances. Fortunately, their divorce was amicable, and they are able to complement each other in their parenting. Gunther becomes more sensitive and philosophical about humanity on the whole, especially when he starts viewing the human brain as a precious commodity that controls everything, not merely thought; even Johnny's winning smile is possible only if his mind can coordinate his muscles. Even if Johnny had a tumor elsewhere on his body, Gunther would have likely written Death Be Not Proud, but the tumor's location in his brain makes the memoir that much more poignant about human potentiality and tragic in its lasting irony.

The section includes further indications that Johnny harbors some fears about his death under his composed appearance. He pours out his "secret fears" to a sound recorder, and his occasional hostility to his father, subconscious or not, indicates that he does have moments of weakness. However, he hides these fears from others, not out of pride, but to spare them; even his fear is courageous.