1.“…Finny’s life was ruled by inspiration and anarchy, and so he prized a set of rules. His own,
not those imposed on him by other people…”
Finny was born to break rules. He lived to make other people laugh and was one of the most influential students at the Devon School.
2.“I should have told him then that he was my best friend also…But something held me back.
Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth”
Showing feelings other than wanting to fight in the war was not common for schoolboys, especially for Gene. Gene actually cares a lot for Finny but his emotions are clouded by the “competition” and envy.
3. “…it seemed, standing there in Finny’s triumphant shirt, that I would never stumble through the
confusions of my own character again”
In some weird way, past all of the rivalry, Finny makes Gene feel good. Finny is the part of Gene that he(Gene) has always wanted to be. Gene does not have any sense of his own identity. The biggest clue of this is in chapter 11 when Brinker comes into Finny and Gene’s room to take them to the inquiry. In this scene we get a physical description of the bedroom walls and learn that Gene has hung up a picture of a southern plantation and he has made up a whole false identity for himself. Gene does not know who he is so he leeches from Finny because that is easier than trying to find himself.
4. “Looking back now across fifteen years, I could see with great clarity the fear I had lived in, which must mean that in the interval I had succeeded in a very important undertaking: I must have made my escape from it”
Gene spent his entire young adult life drowning in guilt. He felt guilty for Finny’s death and the never really left him until he came back 15 years later to where it all had happened.
5.“I was ready for the war, now that I no longer had any hatred to contribute to it. My fury was gone, I felt it gone, dried up at the source, withered and lifeless. Phineas had absorbed it and taken it with him, and I was rid of it forever”
When Finny died he took a part of Gene with him. He took the part of Gene that ever had any doubts about their friendship. At the end of the book, Gene finally comes to peace with himself and realizes that his and Finny’s friendship will last beyond death.
6.“I did not cry then or ever about Finny.…I could not escape a felling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case”
In a sense, the funeral is his own. Gene is merged with Finny and it becomes difficult to understand one boy existing without the other.
“I’ll hate it everywhere if I’m not in this war! Why do you think I kept saying there wasn’t any
war all winter?”
Finny doesn’t quite come to terms with the fact that he will never be able to do more than just limp with the assistance of a cane. He suddenly has all of this built up anger and energy that he doesn’t know what to do with, so he wants to focus it on the war. Unfortunately, because of his inability to do vigorous physical activity no one will accept him.
“Listen, pal, if I can’t play sports, you’re going to play them for me,’ and I lost part of myself to
him then, and a soaring sense of freedom revealed that this must have been my purpose from the
first: to become part of Phineas”
Since Gene feels responsible for what happened to Finny, he will do anything that Finny wants him to do. He does this out of extreme guilt.
9.“I never killed anybody and I never developed an intense level of hatred for the enemy. Because my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there.”
Gene stopped fighting his personal wars when Finny died. He no longer had to feel threatened and he no longer had to feel any guilt. He was at peace with himself.
10.”Your war memories will be with you forever, you’ll be asked about them thousands of times after the war is over. People will get their respect for you from that-partly from that, don’t get me wrong-but if you can say that you were up front where there was some real shooting going on, then that will mean a whole lot to you in years to come”
During the 1940′s fighting in the war was the most noble thing you could do. Everyone wanted to contribute to the war, even the women. Soldiers were superheros.