In the most recent chapter’s cover story, we found out that Pound is still alive. It’s not fully confirmed but there would be no point to it if he is dead.
Some people have expressed their disappointment or annoyance at this fact, justifiably so given it seemed Oda had moved on from not killing characters. I was also one of these people, but thinking about it, Pound being alive does make sense, at least somewhat, from a thematic perspective.
One thing that is clear throughout One Piece is that a person’s strength and the amount of damage one can take is directly related to their willpower and their convictions. Luffy is the prime example of these but there are countless examples throughout the series. A lot of the time we see this it also ties into people’s relationship’s with others. Luffy is able to keep going because he needs to save his crew or Ace or someone else he cares about.
Pound wants to see his daughters, his entire character arc in Whole Cake Island was about trying to find his family. He even tried to fight Oven to protect Chiffon. At the (supposed) end of his story he even finds out he has a grandson. It wouldn’t be unbelievable, in the context of the story, for Pound to survive to try and find his daughters.
Tying in to this theme, when it comes to the few characters that have died in the present day, a number of the protagonists die because that is their conviction, they die to save others, people they care about. Ace dies to save Luffy, Whitebeard dies to ensure his crew can escape, Pedro dies to ensure the Straw Hats can escape. It is generally antagonists who meet their unwilling demise. As Law says ‘the weak don’t get to choose how to die’. If one’s will is strong enough, they can carry on. While Pound isn’t exactly one of the protagonists, he isn’t a bad guy either.
So, in the end, Pound’s will and his conviction to see his family, is stronger than whatever Oven did to him.
*Theory by TheHawkinator