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'Death Be Not Proud' Questions for Study & Discussion

John Gunther's Memoir


Death Be Not Proud

Death Be Not Proud

Study Guide Death Be Not Proud is the story of Johnny Gunther, a boy who discovers that he has a brain tumor. The memoir was written by Johnny's father, which adds another tragic dimension to the tale of a young boy, who courageously faces death. What is it like to face suffering, loss of a future, and death? How does this book compare to other depictions of death in literature? Take a look at these questions for study and discussion.

Questions for Study & Discussion
  • What is important about the title? Would your attitude about the story have been different--as you started to read the memoir--if the title was something else?

  • What are the conflicts in Death Be Not Proud? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional)?

  • How does John Gunther reveal character in Death Be Not Proud? Do the characters come to life? Do they seem "real"?

  • What are some themes in the story? How do they relate to the plot and characters?

  • Compare/contrast John Gunther's Death Be Not Proud with John Donne's Death Be Not Proud. Why do you think Gunther used the same title?

  • Do you find the characters likeable? Are the characters persons you would want to meet?

  • Discuss some of the symbols in Death Be Not Proud.

  • Does the memoir end the way you expected? How? Why?

  • What is the central/primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful?

  • How do you think your understanding or appreciation of this book would have been different if you'd read it at a different time in your life? (When you were older/younger? Or, if you'd just experienced a death?)

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