Johnny wears a suit at his funeral. Gunther maintains that he is still alive to those who knew him—not in the spiritual sense, but in that his bravery still influences those who knew him. Since Frances is Jewish, they have a double ceremony, and a rabbi reads Johnny's "Unbeliever's Prayer." The family receives hundreds of condolence letters, and Gunther reprints three from doctors who express their sympathies and regret for the unfulfilled promise Johnny had. On the upside, Gunther discovers that the autopsy slides from Johnny's brain will be important in neurological studies, so Johnny does end up aiding science, as he had originally intended for his life's work.


Johnny looks "bored" or ignores poetry on death when he and Gunther read together. It is unclear whether he does this either out of fear or, as before, a desire not to let it get in his way, since he used to be more engaged with the idea of death in his conversations with Frances. Perhaps he is less comfortable discussing it with his father, but fear does creep into his life more. His hostility emerges early in the section with several flare-ups, a stark contrast to his regular self, but his anger also shows the strength of his conviction to get better. Still, all his capacity for life comes out that one Sunday when Frances visits, showing his last days were filled with some of his former vitality.

Furthermore, fear is eradicated near the end of Johnny's life. Gunther remarks that he will not explore the "whys" of death here, perhaps because they must remain unanswered. However, the "whys" of life—the reasons why we go on living—seem more than answered by the example Johnny set. Gunther says Johnny died without fear, "without pain, and without knowing he was going to die," but all along Johnny did know he was going to die, yet he still persisted fearlessly, rarely turning a blind eye to his fate. This foreknowledge, and the courageous acceptance of it, is what allows him to die with dignity. Boydon says the graduation is not a favor for Johnny (since he is missing one credit), but his "right." This is true: Johnny undoubtedly worked harder than any other student to graduate, and even for someone as academically diligent as Johnny, one credit is nothing compared to multiple brain surgeries. Gunther says Johnny's ability to walk and receive his diploma (with his weakened left hand) stands for his strength and will, and, more importantly, that those who witnessed it will never forget it. Johnny is not merely a student, but a teacher, inspiring others by his example. It is fitting that he makes a final contribution to science through his death.