Johnny is the subject of Death Be Not Proud. He is a sensitive, intelligent, selfless, courageous teenager who battles a brain tumor. His parents are John Gunther and Frances.
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Gunther is Johnny's father and is divorced from Frances. He is the author of Death Be Not Proud. His works as a journalist, and over the course of the memoir, he writes a book.
Frances is Johnny's mother and the divorced wife of Gunther. Gunther says that Johnny inherits his intellectual and emotional maturity from her. She is more intimate with him than Gunther.
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Traeger is the family physician who advises the Gunthers on Johnny's condition.
Dr. Max Gerson
Gerson is a doctor whose unorthodox methods of treating illnesses are based on a controversial diet.
Dr. Tracy Putnam
Putnam is a specialist in tumors. He is a sensitive man who comes to love Johnny.
Dr. Lester Mount
Putnam's assistant. Mount helps Johnny throughout his illness.
Dr. Wilder Penfield
A renowned brain surgeon who operates on Johnny.
Dr. Harvey Cushing
Preeminent brain surgeon who was the first to open the skull to remove tumors.
A neurologist who identifies Johnny's tumor at Deerfield.
The Deerfield doctor who takes Johnny into the infirmary because of his stiff neck and suspects something worse.
The kindly headmaster of Deerfield.
An older neighbor in the country and chemistry teacher at Andover who helps Johnny with his ammonia experiment.