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The mock trial occurs in Chapter 11. We are told that Brinker and three of his friends burst into Gene and Finny's room one night and forced them to accompany them. Gene writes that he thought it was a kind of end of year prank at first:
His friends half-lifted us half-roughly, and we were hustled down the stairs. I though tit must be some kind of culminating prank, the senior class leaving Devon with a fourish.
As to why Brinker conducts this trial, he seems to be playing at being an adult - the war has filtered in so much into the consciousness of the boys that they feel they need to "play" at being at war too, doing the things that soldiers do in times of war. Note Brinker's explanation that he gives:
"After all," Brinker continued, "there is a war on. Here's one soldier our side has already lost. We've got to find out what happened."
Therefore Brinker, who we already know suspected Gene of knocking Finny off the tree, seems to have appointed himself as the judge in this mock trial, which reflects how much the awareness of war has permeated the world of the boys.
Brinker strongly believes that Gene pushed Finny out of the tree
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