1. Essential Element
| “This was the tree, and it seemed to me standing there to resemble those men, the giants of your childhood, whom you encounter years later and find that they are not merely smaller in relation to your growth, but that they are…shrunken by age.” Ch. 1, Pg. 14
| The tree is symbolized to represent something grown up from. The tree is the past, and it was so much more meaningful before rather than now. The change in importance is due to Gene thinking and reliving it constantly over time.
| “Nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not even a death by violence.” Ch. 1, Pg. 14
| You receive so much information and deep emotions from this one quote. The author tells us that this boy has gone through traumatic events which have changed his life. He is hurt by the memory of it and must remember it everyday.
| “With the sensation that I was throwing my life away, I jumped into space.” Ch. 1, Pg. 15
| This was something Gene had never done. It was a leap of faith with him committing to Finny’s actions. This proves to be a major conflict as Gene would admire to be as good as Finny, but he doesn’t want their friendship to be a competition.
2. Essential Element
| “We were careless and wild, and I suppose we could be thought of as a sign of life the war was being fought to preserve.” Ch. 2, pg. 16
| Since Devon students are merely kids, they cannot even begin to imagine what war truly is, for they are innocent. Children live life carelessly and wildly without fears nor understanding of consequences. Boys of sixteen such as Gene, Brinker, Finny and Leper are full of life and think about the present rather than the future.
| Faulty Persuasion
| “There was no harm in envying even your best friend a little.” Ch. 2, pg. 18
| Gene is in denial attempting to make himself less guilty. He persuades his own conscious that jealousy towards his best friend is harmless. Also, the more Gene justifies his feelings toward Phineas, the more we can see he's still ashamed of his actions.
| “We seemed to be playing on the tame fringe of the last and greatest wilderness....Bombs in Central Europe were completely unreal to us here...." Ch. 2, pg. 23
| The innocent boys were safe, and the school was one of the last places in the world to be free and live regularly. The summer is a period of escape for Devon School's students. Gene is confused, and he does not know whether to feel thankful or selfish.
3. Essential Element
| “Although he was rarely conscious of it, Phineas was always being watched, like the weather.” Pg. 33
| Everyone is interested and curious of Finny’s potential. Similar to the weather, he is always being watched for out of the ordinary acts. Phineas isn’t cautious of being watched, for he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.
| “Perhaps for that reason his accomplishment took root in my mind and grew rapidly in the darkness where I was forced to hide it.” Pg. 37
| Gene had a sense Finny was cocky. After the record breaking swim, Gene wanted to tell everyone of Finny’s achievement. Finny told him to tell no one, and Gene, in a conflict, never understands why all of a sudden he is noble.
| Cultural Issues
| “Exposing a sincere emotion nakedly like that at the Devon school was the next thing to suicide.” Pg. 40
| Nobody ever explained their feelings at Devon. The brotherhood issue is neglected, for no one tells their best friends how they feel. Due to this, Gene is timid to trust Finny.
4. Essential Element
| “He gave me that half-smile of his, which had won him a thousand conflicts.” Pg. 40
| Gene exaggerates how much Finny’s “half-smile” brings him safety from trouble. He realized Finny was trying to get away from an argument with the technique. Finny will almost win every obstacle with the smile.
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