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So much of this story is told about and through Gene's conflict within himself regarding his friendship with Finny, and it is through pivotal events in the plot that these feelings develop, fester, and almost ruin Gene. The first, of course, is when Phineas challenges Gene to jump out of the tree in the first place. Gene is taken in by Finny's adventurous nature, but he (Gene) also has feelings of envy toward Finny, which makes their friendship complicated. Is Gene entranced and jealous of Finny because he (Gene) is insecure, or does Finny's talents and personality make Gene insecure? Gene experiences these feelings again when Phineas invites him to the tree to see one of their friends jump. Gene decides that Phineas is trying to undermine his studying time, then changes his mind, goes to the tree, and causes Finny to fall out of it, shattering his leg and future competing in sports. A third pivotal event occurs when Finny refuses to believe that Gene purposely caused his accident; and then, later, in a mock inquiry into Finny's accident when Finny is no longer able to deny what his friend had done--he runs out of the room, and breaks his leg again. Complications from this injury will lead to his premature death, leaving Gene with a whole host of new issues to deal with, particularly guilt.
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