Gene Forrester is the protagonist of a coming of age story in many ways. First Genes shift from ignorance to knowledge is pretty apparent. An ignorant Gene is led to the tree where he jounces the the limb causing Finny to fall. The knowledge of his evil deed and the loss of innocence because of it really launches Gene from childhood to adulthood. Genes shift from innocence to experience can be expressed by the very same situation. Gene lost his innocence when he jounced the limb of the tree and injuring Finny because of it. He now has experience of doing sinful deeds. What drove Gene to jounce the limb was perhaps to bring Finny down to his own level and make the two equal. The very thought causes Gene to become a little less innocent and a little more devious. Part of coming-of-age is having the experience of the consequences of doing bad things.
Gene also experiences a shift from a false view of his world to a correct view. In the beginning of the novel Gene views his world as being confined to Devon and that the war was not going to approach him for a long time. He soon realizes that the war is coming for him whether he likes it or not. Coming-of-age also means accepting the things you cannot change and trying make a positive experience out of it. When Gene realizes that Finny made up his “theory” about the war because he was denied entry to all of the branches of the military, his view of the war changes. His view of the war changes also because he had found out that Leper was about to face a discharge and he abandoned his post because of it. He now views the war as a very real thing.
Idealism and realism are two ideas that Gene faces through the course of the novel. In the first few chapters Gene is idealistic. He unrealistically pursues the idea that Finny resents him for his superior academic ability. We figure out though that it is Gene who resents Finny because of his athletic ability and charm. The idea of crippling Finny...
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