Comprehensive Summary and Review of Chapters
4 - 6
When they awaken, before heading home, they go for a quick swim.
They reach school just in time for Gene's ten o'clock exam. Not having studied,
he fails the test. This is the first time that has ever failed a test. Finny
makes very light of it and doesn't allow Gene to give it a second thought.
That night, Gene tries to study for his make-up test, but Finny
chides him about his studiousness and accuses him that he is doing this because
he wants to be valedictorian. At first Gene denies it, but then the thought
becomes palatable to him and he feels that this might be the only way that
he could gain recognition and equal Finny's athletic fetes.
Suddenly, Gene comes to the realization that a certain amount
of rivalry exists between them and that their friendship isn't a pure one.
This thought upsets him and he becomes convinced that Finny is trying every
possible way to interrupt his studies and distract him. He hides these thoughts
from Finny and continues to attend the society meetings. There are even times
when he feels that his thoughts are not valid.
It is at one of these meetings, at the usual opening ceremony,
Finny announced that from now on both he and Gene would jump together as they
are both equals. When they reach the designated limb, Finny walks ahead followed
by Gene. Just as Finny reaches the end, Gene shakes the limb with his leg,
causing Finny to lose his balance and fall to the ground. As he watches Finny,
he doesn't seem to feel any regrets about what he did and jumps into the river
Finny is forced to spend the next several days in the school
infirmary as his leg is broken in several places. The doctor also informs
him that he will no longer be able to participate in any sport activities.
Gene finds himself alone and at times has feelings of remorse about Finny.
He is placed into an awkward situation when the doctor enlists him to help
Finny cope with his physical problem.
When Gene visits him in the infirmary, he is very tempted to
tell Finny the truth and that his fall was not an accident, but Finny doesn't
allow him to speak and the opportunity slips away. The next day, Finny is
sent home to recuperate.
After the summer, on the way back to school, Gene decides to
detour and visit Finny. He decides to confess to Finny and tells him what
he did. Instead of feeling better, Gene is immediately sorry that he has told
Finny and leaves for school.
Gene is now a senior at school and thoughts about the war is on everyone's
mind. Life on campus feels different without Finny, even though he is back
in the same room that he had during the summer. To fill this void, Gene decides
to go out for a sport and signs on as an assistant crew manager. Quakenbush,
the senior crew manager kids him about this because he thinks that it is odd
that Gene didn't show an interest in sports before being a senior. They have
a fight and Quakenbush tells Gene not to come back.
When he reaches his room, he is told hat he has a phone call. As he answers
the call, he realizes that it is Finny. He tries to answer all of Finny's
questions and even tells him that he has become involved in sports. Finny
sounds overjoyed and tells him that he is glad that he is carrying on the
tradition and tells him that he must play for him.
Gene's insecurity is one of the key factors in the development of the novel
and surfaces in these chapters. He doubts his own abilities, and believes
that Finny is attempting to destroy his academic success. Yet the reader learns
that it is actually Gene's paranoia over his own lack of talent that leads
to his distrust of Finny, and eventually to taking the opportunity to destroy
Finny's unique nature.