Gene says “Phineas didn’t really dislike authority in general, but just considered authority the necessary evil against which happiness was achieved by reaction, the backboard which returned all the insults he threw at it. ” This is just one example of how Finny is rebellious in a carefree and non-malicious way. In the beginning of the novel, it is easy for them to break the rules because it’s the summer session and the professors are less strict, especially with Phineas. However, once winter comes, Finny is gone so the regular teachers are able to enforce the rules once again.
This symbolizes Phineas’ contributions to the boy’s anarchical Another important theme is competition and games. In the novel, the boys are very competitive and play many sports. The most important contributor to this theme is Finny, because when playing games he is unable to comprehend the fact that there are winners and losers and opposing teams in sports. Finny says “”You always win at sports. ” This “you” was collective. Everyone always won at sports. ” He seems to believe that everyone is a winner which adds to his image of pureness. This theme is consistent throughout most of the novel but changes somewhat when Finny breaks his leg.
He is no longer able to play sports, which was one of his favorite things to do. Betrayal and loyalty are major themes in the novel. It begins when Gene starts to suspect Finny of trying to be better than him. Gene continues to betray his best friend and shakes a tree that Finny is in, causing him to fall out and shatter the bone in his leg. This is the first time that Gene comprehends Finny’s mortality because before Finny’s fall, Gene sees him as practically immortal. After Finny falls he thinks “He had never been jealous of me for a second. Now I knew that there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us.
I was not of the same quality as he. ” Finny had had good and loyal intentions the whole time, and Gene realizes he had misinterpreted him and betrayed their friendship. The theme of betrayal and loyalty is a huge part of the novel because it is the cause of the main conflict. Regarding friends and enemies, we again see how Finny doesn’t understand the distinction between the two because everyone is his friend as far as he is concerned. Gene tells Finny, “Phineas, you wouldn’t be any good in the war, even if nothing had happened to your leg…You’d get things so scrambled up nobody would know who to fight any more.
You’d make a mess, a terrible mess, Finny, out of the war. ” This is the first time anyone enlightens Finny about his inability to discern enemies from friends. And as the book goes on, we also see how Gene is constantly judging friends and enemies incorrectly. He thinks Finny is his enemy when he’s really his friend, and thinks that others are his friends when they are actually against him. The final two themes, guilt/innocence and good/evil, often coincide in the novel. Gene is constantly feeling guilty, for Finny’s injury, for not telling finny the truth, for Finny’s death, etc.
On the other hand, Finny represents the innocence of the school, somehow he can always seem to convince the boys that they will never have to grow up and that they can stay young and carefree. Finny is also portrayed as everything that is ‘good’ in the novel; he is innocent and friendly and has no hostile feelings for anyone. He even manages to forgive Gene for making him fall out of the tree. His death somewhat symbolizes the death of innocence and good in the school and in youth as they grow up. But there are also many evils in the novel, such as war. It is only when Finny (the good) is dead that the war (the evil) really roots its self in Devon. For instance, the military base is made in the far common and students start enlisting only after Finny dies. In conclusion, the novel.