In the second chapter of Paul Zindel's The Pigman, Lorraine, who is narrating the chapter, makes it very clear that the prospect of death doesn't phase John.
As Lorraine describes, John is a very rebellious person and "drinks and smokes more than any boy [she] ever heard of." Lorraine has undertaken a mission to try and explain to John just how deadly smoking and alcohol addictions are, but the information doesn't phase John. At one point, Lorraine showed him a book of Sigmund Freud's case studies and went over a case with him that was similar to his own. As she explains, she "almost had him convinced that smoking was an infantile, destructive activity" when he noticed that the cover of the book depicted Freud smoking a cigar. John's argument was that if Freud smoked, he could smoke too. When Lorraine countered the argument by pointing out that Freud no longer smoked because he was dead, John ignored her. Lorraine even got her mother, who works as a nurse, to bring home pamphlets and books depicting lungs being damaged by by tobacco and full of cancer, but none of these phased John either.
In general, since John has a family who ignores him, John has learned not to care about his life; however, he learns the value of life and the foolishness of his behavior when their friend Angelo Pignati dies.