.. e tree. Soon there is a heavy snowfall and nobody was there to shovel the snow off the tracks in a nearby train yard, because the workers were fighting in the war so many of the boys from Devon had volunteered to help shovel the snow. Hours later, after they were done, a train with many happy, young and energetic newly enlisted soldiers in it, it was then that Brinker declared that he was enlisting, and we soon find out that Gene wanted to enlist to help him get away from his problems and start anew, but due to Finny’s strong disapproval, he stayed at Devon. We now find out that Gene thinks that there is always something deadly lurking in everything he wants, even if he has to place it there himself.
Finny had gone home for a time because of his shattered leg but soon returned to Devon. The day after he returned, he wanted Gene to cut class and help him take a “tour” of Devon; refamiliarizing himself with the place. Although he was not the kind to cut class, Gene agreed. In a few days we find out that among all the boys at Devon, the first one to enlist in the army is Leper, the nerd. Leper had enlisted in the ski troops because he saw a film and it looked quite exciting.
Gene thought that their first contribution to the war would leave in style, proud and bold, but Leper, he just left. The next few weeks are all in preparation for a secret winter carnival, organized by Finny which included a ski jump (about 3 foot high), music, games with prizes and some very hard cider. Near the end Gene has received a telegram from Leper stating that he “had escaped.” Finny had no Idea what he had escaped from. Gene went to the place specified on the card: Leper’s home. When there Gene found that Leper had gone crazy.
He was “nervous in the service” and had developed quite a psychotic personality. Gene and Leper start out talking friendly but Leper suddenly lashes out at Gene calling him “high and mighty, savage,” and “lord of the manner,” this lead to Leper accusing Gene that he had caused Finny’s accident which made Gene kick Leper out of his chair. Gene had gotten very defensive over this. In a few days later in the evening, Brinker, who has changed quite a bit since earlier in the book, came into Gene and Finny’s room with some of his friends and took the two to the auditorium in the first building. There were several other boys waiting and made the two sit down, Brinker rambled on a bit and then started to question Gene and Finny on where Gene was when Finny was about to jump off the limb, at first Gene and Finny agreed that Gene was on the ground, going up the tree as Finny fell but Finny remembers that they were going to jump together, and Gene was on the limb with him.
Due to this unclarity, the boys go to get Leper, who was also there, and he remembers that both Gene and Finny were on the limb and that he say someone bounce up and down, but he would not reveal who fell that day. Finny has finally collected all this information and stormed off in a rage out the door and down the steps to their room but he didn’t make it down the steps safely, he fell and broke his other leg. They get the wrestling coach, who knew first aid and eventually the doctor who took him away to the infirmary. They carried Finny out in a chair which reminded Gene of an “tragic, exalted personage.” Gene, who was in a very unstable state of mind went to the infirmary and stood outside Finny’s window while the Doctor and wrestling coach do a little work on Finny, by now Gene is hysterical, he can’t stop laughing, he just can’t. After the Doctor leaves and it is just Finny in the room, Gene jumps up to the window and tries to talk to Finny but Finny reacts in anger saying “come to break more of my bones,” but Gene has the sense to stay outside and he finally says “Finny, I’m sorry.” Over and over again: “Finny I’m Sorry.” Gene makes his way to the stadium and falls asleep under the bleachers.
The next morning he wakes up and returns to his room to find a note on the door asking him to bring Finny’s clothes and toilet articles to the infirmary, so he packs them and brings them to Finny. When he got there a phrase came to mind: “this is it” very appropriate for the challenge he now faces. Gene enters and places the suitcase on Finny’s bed, Finny sorts through his things quietly and than says to gene that he has tried to enlist in every branch of the army. but because of his leg, no branch will take him. Gene replies to him that he would be no good in the army because he would confuse everybody and doesn’t have the heart to kill.
At this point Finny has a 100% realization that Gene intentionally had caused the accident at the tree and he tells him “you have already shown me, I believe you.” Those are Finny’s last words to Gene symbolizing the forgiveness that has taken place. Gene later returns to the infirmary and the doctor tells him that finny has died, his heart was stopped by a piece of bone marrow, and that he died peacefully. Finny never cried, not then, not at the funeral, because he was an extension of Finny and “you can’t cry at your own funeral.” Gene did enter the war, but he never saw any action, and was never in any fighting, but he realizes, as Brinker pointed out, that when Finny said that the war is just a joke made up by old men, he was right, it is a game, and their sons are playing in that game and they are dyeing not for their country, but for the sins of others. He realized it but didn’t believe it, Gene feels that wars are made by “something ignorant in the human heart.” Gene was ready for the war now, he was ready to face new problems, new enemies, Finny took problems a little at a time, and that’s how Gene has changed-he is taking that same approach also. Hate, anger, fear jealousy, and the enemies in the human heart are gone from Gene now, Finny has taken them with him to his grave.