"The tree was tremendous, an irate, steely black steeple beside the river. I was damned if I could climb it" (Knowles 14).
I can't believe I'm back. It's been so long since I've been to Devon, I feel like I had lost a part of me and now I've found it. My memories came rushing back as I took each step. I remember when Finny and I went past these bushes on our way to French class. One time he pushed me into them and I was stuck for fifteen minutes, as Finny walked to class. I was so entangled inside the bushes there were little twigs in my hair and clothes for weeks. To make it even, I pushed him into the same bushes the next day and tied his tie around a branch, so he would be stuck longer than I was. I got to class and waited for Finny to walk in and be reprimanded by Monsieur, but he never did. I began to worry a little, but then I remembered he had had little sleep the night before so he probably took the opportunity to take a nap. After class I went back to our room and there were leaves and branches everywhere, mostly on my bed and in my stuff. I remember Finny's mischievous grin as I walked back and forth from the trash can while cleaning up the leaves.
Present day Gene is walking through the rain and mud on his way to the tree.
"He had gotten away with everything. I felt a sudden stab of disappointment" (Knowles 28).
Phew, that was a close one. I don't know how I keep getting away with things. I feel like I ramble on half the time, but I keep getting out of punishment. I just have a way with people I guess. I can't believe that the Allies bombed Central Europe. I was so excited when I found out, I wanted to run around with Old Glory on my back all day. I couldn't do this because I don't have a flag. If I had a flag I definitely would. I decided to wear that pink shirt my mom sent up instead. I figured the other guys wouldn't mess with me. They all know I could take them out in an instant. When we got to the tea, I realized I had used my school tie as a belt right when the headmaster's wife pointed it out. Eek. I'm actually really surprised I got out of that one. After the tea, Gene and I went to the tree. As we were climbing the rungs, I had an idea to make a suicide society. I figured it'd be fun. Gene agreed, and he went to jump. He turned around for an instant, I'm not sure why, and he slipped on the branch. I grabbed his arm so he wouldn't fall, I can't loose the best roommate I've ever had. The last thing I want to do is room with Leper.
The events in this chapter like blitzball and Finny wearing his pink shirt revolve around the war and patriotism.
"...Finny could shine with everyone, he attracted everyone he met. I was glad of that too. Naturally. He was my roommate and my best friend" (Knowles 40).
The Suicide Society is a huge success. We have at least six trainees that were very enthusiastic about signing up. I can't believe people would actually do this with me. Im surprised Gene actually jumped that night. Today, we were supposed to play badminton. Obviously, we didn't, not if I had anything to do with it. I am so bored of all the games they have us play here at Devon, so I created my own. We call it blitzball, after the type of German warfare called Blitzkreig. It is really quite fun. I enjoy the time I have with my classmates because one of these days we are all going to graduate or get drafted. I hope we graduate first. I really hope this war is over with soon, I can't stand the thought of one day going and having to shoot another human that happens to be on the wrong side of the war. I'm excited about this little secret I've got now. I've broken the Devon one-hundred yard freestyle record. I don't want to draw any more attention to myself by announcing this, Gene was the only one who saw it. I think the other boys would be upset, as I've never swam competitively before in my life. I don't even know how I did it, it just happened. I don't think I can ever get back in a pool without feeling guilty. Since pool swimming isn't real swimming, Gene and I biked to the beach so we could gallivant a little on the shore. It was very freeing. I realized while we were biking that I couldn't live without Gene. He's like another brother to me. There's no way I'm ever going to let us separate, neither of us can survive without the other.
This image represents this chapter because the two boys went to the beach. It also represents this chapter because the bright colors represent the comradely between the boys the entire time they are there.
"But while he was a very poor student I was a pretty good athlete, and when everything was thrown into the scales they would in the end tilt definitely toward me" (Knowles 55).
When we woke up on the beach, I panicked. I didn't know where we were at first. Then I heard the ocean and remembered the interesting day we had yesterday. I was kind of upset with Finny when he lost our money. I was absolutely starving, and that could be why I failed my trigonometry test. On the bike ride back to Devon, I nearly passed out. That was remedied after lunch with a game of blitzball. I like blitzball; it gets my blood pumping. It is a game that everyone loves to play, possibly only for the fact that Finny created it. After our suicide society meeting that night, I had a realization: Finny didn't want me to be valedictorian. He was doing everything in his power to distract me from my studies. He wanted to be better than me. I absolutely was not going to let that happen. I ramped up my studies and so did he, but not to the extend that I did. I was going to be better than him it it killed me. We were friendly for the next few weeks, Finny acted as if there was not rivalry to begin with. One night, Finny told me that Leper wanted to jump from the tree. I was outraged. I thought Finny had convinced Leper to jump from the tree to wreck my studies. However, this was not true. Finny said he never realized that I had to study. How could anyone not study and still do well? Of course I have to study! He was so calm and casual when he told me not to go to see Leper jump, I think there was no rivalry to begin with. After that I did end up going to the tree. Finny and I climbed at the same time to jump, Finny being farther out on the limb than me. I was on the trunk. He suggested that we do a double jump and jump at the same time so I started to walk out farther on the branch. As I did, I bent my knees and the limb jounced. Finny lost his balance and went plummeting to the ground. I can't believe I did that to him. I thought he was dead when he first landed, as he didn't move. We called Dr. Stanpole, and he took him to the infirmary. I still can't comprehend what's going on.
This image represents the rivalry between Gene and Finny. It shows that in those few weeks, the rivalry existed and had lots riding on it, but once he realized it didn't really exist, it was as pointless as arm wrestling.
"'I deliberately jounced the limb so you would fall off,' He looked older than I had ever seen him. 'Of course you didn't'" (Knowles 70).
My leg is shattered, and I can't play sports ever again. I'll never be drafted, no army or navy will ever let me enlist. My entire life is gone. What am I supposed to do with my life? Dr. Stanpole says I'll be able to walk again, with no mention of anything else. I'll be lucky if I can walk, all because of a dumb idea to jump out of a tree. Why didn't I think more about what could happen? I was so confident in my athletic abilities that my common sense was clouded. If only I had thought about it for one more second, or had looked down to see how far the ground really was. There's nothing I can do now. I'll just have to live with it. Gene visited me earlier, and seemed kind of insane. I don't know what's wrong with him, but he said he needed to tell me something. He must be going nutty without me to pull him out of that desk of his for a little fun. Oh well, hopefully he'll be better by the time I'm out of this infirmary.
Beginning of Winter Session
The Summer Session ended and I'm back at home now. Gene came to visit me at home. He was even more insane than the day I was in the infirmary! He was trying to convince me that he made the limb move and caused me to lose my balance and fall off. I'm starting to think there is something on his side of our room that's causing him to go insane. He seems pretty convinced he did it, but I know he'd never do it on purpose.
This image represents this chapter because Finny is spending his time in his physical infirmary. It also represents how Gene feels trapped holding his confession inside of him, as this room appears very small.
"I hit him hard across the face. I didn't know why for an instant; it was almost as though I were maimed" (Knowles 79).
Devon feels different without Finny. There's no excitement, no happiness. The young and the only teachers who possibly had a praying hope of being interesting were shipped off to the war and we were left with the boring and old ones. Across the hall now lived Brinker Hadley. I didn't quite care for him. Later, I went out to the river to help manage the rowing team. Quacks bush has a first name and apparently it is Cliff. I would have never guessed. I was so offended when he called me maimed that punching him wasn't enough. I wanted to knock him cold. But of course, I didn't. It would have infuriated him even more that he would have snapped my neck for sure when he woke up. I'll never forgive him for calling me maimed. It is almost like another part of Finny was in me, and that's what made me fight. I felt as though I myself was maimed. I truly am becoming part of Finny.
This picture represents this chapter because Gene had a fight with Quackenbush. It also represents this chapter because Gene had an inner conflict with the question of playing sports.
"'What's the charge?' 'Doing away with his roommate so he could have a whole room to himself. Rankest treachery'...'Practically fratricide'" (Knowles 89).
That blasted man, Brinker. He is convinced I have it out for Finny. He came to my room to visit and started practically accusing me of pushing Finny off the branch. He called it "practically fratricide". Then he took me down into the dungeon of a Butt Room for a trial. He was convinced that I would admit everything just because. Well, he wasn't wrong. I made up an elaborate story with totally unbelievable details and wove the part about me making Finny fall into the story. I did this so they would think that since the rest of my details were so ridiculous and insane, my true confession was just as insane as the story. I sure hope they think it was all false. Later, we were put to work for the war effort. We helped shovel snow off the train tracks for the trains taking new recruits out of the station. I had a lot of good time to think. I don't often get a time to do something monotonous so I can think. I talked to Leper before we left to help. He said he was going to go skiing. He likes to look at the trees and see each thing as he goes along. He might make a good biologist one day. He was looking for a beaver dam. I wished him the best of luck, and he was off. When we got home, I went to my room while Brinker went to a meeting. He had said something about how we were all nutty here at Devon and that he was going to enlist. I keep wondering, should I enlist? It is a chance for a new start, to forget everything thats happened at Devon. I wish I had the courage to do it. When I opened the door to my room, Finny was sitting there. I was elated. Devon was back to normal with it's personality back.
This picture represents the dark and gloomy atmosphere of the Butt Room. It also represents the gloomy atmosphere at Devon without Finny.
"Leave your fantasy life out of this. We're grooming you for the Olympics, pal, in 1944" (Knowles 117).
Finally, I'm back. I was so sick of just sitting around at home, I wanted to jump out of that tree again but this time land on my head. I don't think Gene will ever know how excited I am to be back. But what is all this crap about no maids? How is a school full of teenage boys supposed to survive without maids? There will be mold growing on the walls in a week! I guess there's no maids in the army. That Brinker, I swear. One of these days he's going to wake up and decide he wants to run for president. I don't know what I would do if Gene decided to enlist with Brinker and they became old army pals. I don't think I could live without Gene, he's like the twin brother I never had. I need Gene here, to help keep Devon lively. After Brinker - now known as Yellow Peril - left, Gene and I went to the gym. He did thirty chins without the gym teacher yelling in his face, it was just me there and I was counting. I think Gene could go to the '44 Olympics. Now which sport he would do I don't know, but he definitely could go. We're going to start training every morning. He'll run and I might even set up an obstacle course. I know he'll get the gold.
This image represents this chapter because it shows how Finny sees Olympic potential in Gene. It also represents how Finny, a great athlete, is stuck inside his body with a broken leg.
"'There isn't any Devon Winter Carnival and never has been.' 'There is now'" (Knowles 129).
Leper enlisted. What a nutcase he is. I never imagined he'd leave his naturalist world of beauty to zip through the mountains shooting at the enemy. He'll be missed, even if it's only by Gene and me. I always had a soft spot for him. Ah, the Carnival. It was the best idea I've ever had! I knew Gene would like the snow statues, I thought of that just for him. I didn't expect the ski jump to be very high, I just wanted to see the other guys try to build it! What made it even better was the hard cider Brinker so kindly provided. It made the ski jump all the better. Watching a more than tipsy Gene attempt it was quite a show. I think it was the perfect day. I wish we could do it every week. Even though I can't do all the sports I used to, I feel like with Gene around I can. I feel like I've become a part of Gene. Or maybe he became a part of me. I don't know, but I do know that we are closer than we've ever been. I hope the war ends before he gets drafted, I don't know what I'll do without him. Maybe they'll draft him into the ski troops with Leper and he'll get to do all the stuff the other guys joked that Leper did. I liked listening to their stories about Leper. It just made me realize that that's what my life will be when Gene gets drafted. I'll be sitting in my living room reading the newspaper and imagining Gene becoming a hero. How pathetic. I wish I was in uniform myself.
This picture represents this chapter because the boys had a carnival. It also represents this chapter because the sign on the ride says "Helter Skelter" and Gene was thrown "helter skelter" when he received the telegram from Leper.
"One day I couldn't make out what was happening to the corporal's face. It kept changing into faces I knew from somewhere else, and then...he changed into a woman" (Knowles 150).
I was excited for Gene to visit. I was going insane in that empty old house of mine. Well to be exact I was insane before I got here. I thought having Gene here would make me feel better but now he thinks I'm a deserter as well as insane. Gene is the only one of the boys I ever really felt could be my brother. He was always so kind and always seemed like he knew what to do. It looked like he had it all. He was trying to make polite small talk, I could tell. It was the small talk I wanted to avoid. I didn't want to have to tell him I ran away but he kept asking. I had to explain that it was my only option. I don't need a Section Eight discharge hanging over my head the rest of my life. I already have enough problems. He really does have it all, but one day he'll see. He is a real savage deep in his soul. One day it'll come out like it did that day with Finny and that day he'll ruin his life. He'll see I was right. He'd look quite funny with the Queen's head. So would the corporal. I never want to see another disembodied limb again. I never want to hear another cough again. I never want to go back there. I'd die right there in front of Gene before I'd ever go back.
This picture represents this chapter because it asks "Are you psycho?" and Leper has been called psycho, and definitely is psycho. It also represents this chapter because this place looks very desolate and isolated, which is just how Leper feels.
"If when Brinker had said 'Let us pray' I had said 'Go to hell' everything might have been saved" (Knowles 167).
I was astounded when I saw Finny in a snowball fight. I hadn't seen him so happy doing something so simple since he broke his leg. I really think he's healing well. Maybe Dr. Stanpole was wrong and he would be able to play sports again! That would be a real treat. I talked to Finny after the fight because I was concerned he break his leg again. If Finny broke his leg again, I don't know if he'd ever heal mentally. While his leg may be intact, his mind would be mush. He'd be bored out of his skull if he couldn't even walk. At least he'll never be drafted. We went to pick training programs for after we graduate, and because of what happened to Leper we were all scared. None of us wanted to be on the front lines, so we all picked programs that kept us hopefully away from danger. I don't want to end up like Leper. Brinker is certainly interesting with his view on Finny. He thought we should talk to him about his leg, but I think he's insane. He wanted us to joke about his leg. How absurd! I'll never in a million years joke about that. That's like joking about someone's sibling dying. I could never do that. You'd think that with all his extra time Finny would spend more time on his schoolwork. Nope. Not my Finny. He made me translate Caesar for him. He can't graduate if he doesn't do it and obviously he doesn't even know the latin word for apple, so I'm doing it for him. I kind of like it, it helps me feel like I really am helping Finny. Finny was telling me about how he saw Leper at Devon today. He went out the side door, and there was Leper hiding in the bushes. Poor boy. That night, Brinker came and got Finny and I from our room. He took us to a dark old lecture hall, and said something about Finny's leg and settling the matter. I was worried from that moment on. I wish I had just told him to go to hell. If I had nipped it at the bud, Finny wouldn't have had an outburst and stormed out after Leper "testified".
This image represents this chapter because it shows a courtroom similar to the "courtroom" the boys held their trial in. It also represents this chapter because it is very ominous and dark looking, like the mood in the chapter and especially during the trial.
"'This is something I think boys of your generation are going to see a lot of,' he said quietly, 'and I will have to tell your about it now. Your friend is dead'"(Knowles 193).
I wish we'd never have gone. I wish Finny and I had never left our room. We just didn't know. As soon as Finny stood up and said he didn't care I knew something was going to happen. I can still hear the sound of Finny falling down the stairs. After hearing him fall, I remembered what happened the last time he fell and I wanted to cry. I knew there wasn't going to be a good outcome. When Phil Latham arrived with his medical knowledge I was slightly relieved. I no longer felt panicky at all. Phil told me to get a blanket for Finny, so I did. If I hadn't thought that Finny would have killed me right then and there I would have wrapped Finny in the blanket myself. Phil must have known that Finny would kill me so he wrapped Finny in the blanket himself. I really wish I could've done it. When they lifted Finny in the chair and carried him out, I thought he looked oddly like a king. He looked like a king that had needed help from his subjects and was being triumphantly carried to safety. I somehow managed to talk to Dr. Stanpole and he said it was his leg again, he thought it was broken cleanly. Later that night, I remember going through the window of the infirmary. I remember how weak Finny looked and how helpless he was when he almost fell out of his bed. No matter how well his leg healed I knew he'd never be the same. After visiting him in the infirmary during the day, I had no idea it would be our last conversation. There are so many things I wish I had told Finny. I wanted us to grow up and be old pals sitting in each other's living-rooms and having a cigar and just talking. He was like a twin I never had. I wish he was still here. He might not be here physically but I think when he died he gave a part of his soul to me. Actually, I think it was there all along.
This image represents this chapter because in this chapter Finny falls down marble steps. It also represents this chapter because the gloomy man in the corner represents how Gene feels the entire time he is roaming around the campus after he hears the news of Finny's death.
"This was more final than the moment when the Headmaster handed me my diploma. My schooling was over now" (Knowles 203).
It makes me really sad to know that this is it for my schooling life. I know now that I'm done and I can't do anymore because the Navy awaits me. I think it is kind of symbolic that Devon gave the Far Common to the military because this is the year that we all give ourselves to the war. I can't wait to get there, so I can finally feel like I'm doing something for the war and not just sitting on the sidelines being useless. That's how I've felt when it comes to controlling my own life, so I'm ready to get out onto the field. I might not be fighting with all my soul like Mr. Hadley seems to think the only way to fight is, but I'll still be doing something. I'm proud of Brinker for not listening to his father and instead going into something more safe like the Coast Guard. I know he won't regret it. I think we all have seen what the war can do to a person because of Leper, so we're trying to stay safe. We've already had two casualties in this war and we want to prevent any more. I just wish one of them hadn't been Finny.
This image represents this chapter because in this chapter there are parachute riggers that come to Devon. It also represents this chapter because just as the paratroopers are being dropped into the war, so are the boys except the boys don't have parachutes.
Physical Trivia: A Fun Way to Stay Up To Date on The War!
This is such a wonderful game because all you really need is a way to write down the score! No other materials are necessary. The object of the game is to have the most points at the end of the game. Any number of people can play, but we recommend two to five. If there are more than that that want to play, create a tournament! The winners of the smaller competitions can go to a final competition to decide who knows the most out of everyone.
- First things first: the Game Master. Chose a person to be Game Master. This person must be very up-to-date on the happenings of the war. This person should also be good at math, as they will also be keeping score.
- The Game Master will ask a question about the war. It can be about anything from troop movements to names of generals to battle history. Each question is worth five points, and partial credit can be given. If a contestant replies with the wrong answer, they must do ten pushups. Contestants can either write down their answers or shout them out.
- There are three rounds of questions. In each round there will be seven questions. After one round, if there is a tie in number of points, you must do a tiebreaker. The two people tied must arm wrestle. The winner of the match will get two points, while the loser must do ten sit-ups.
- Continue playing for three rounds. Any disputes will be settled by the Game Master. If anyone is caught with a newspaper or other informational material, they will be forced to jump from the tree.
- At the end of three rounds, the person with the highest score wins. If there is a tie, do a tiebreaker. The person with the second highest score must do five pushups. The person with the next smallest score must do seven, the next nine, and so on adding two pushups each place down. The person with the least points must do his number of pushups, the same number of sit-ups, and run to the river and back.
- Repeat often for not only a sharp body but a sharp war mind as well. May only the best win!