Loss of innocence
1942 was a difficult year for all Americans. World War II brought changes to every citizen. However, in the protected world of Devon, Phineas and Gene started junior year with their innocence and optimism intact. During their junior year, Phineas and Gene experienced tragedies that led to their loss of innocence. These tragedies made the boys realize that they would never again feel the purity of their younger days. While Phineas is at Devon, he attempts to convince himself and others that the ugliness of the war is not happening. He even told Gene “There isn’t any war.”(p.115) Phineas had thought that fat old men had made the war a hoax so that young men will not keep them out of their jobs. If he could convince others of this, then he would feel that the war did not exist. No one really bought into the fact the war is a hoax except Finny himself. He tried hard to keep everybody’s mind off the war so he created games such as blitz ball, the Olympics, tree jumping, and snowball fights. In the sheltered world of Devon, it is easy to ignore the reality of WWII, but as the juniors became closer to draft age, even Phineas began to accept the future. Phineas had to admit that the war was real when his friends start enlisting. The hardest part for Phineas is realizing that he could not take part in the war effort. Phineas had always been a leader and an athlete and now he felt useless and left behind. Junior year is extremely difficult for Gene as well. He began the year as a naïve and protected student. To Gene, the tree represents a passage to manhood and symbolizes vitality, strength and courage. He sees the tree as “tremendous, an irate, steely black steeple” (14). It is a force to be reckoned with, and even though he is scared, Gene feels triumphant and hopeful for his future and the future of his friendship with Finny. Gene even states, “We were best friends at the moment” (18). Gene really admires Phineas. He admires his athleticism and...
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