Do you think Gene and Finny are really best friends? 

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One could argue that Gene and Finny are not really best friends based on Gene's feelings of jealousy and anger toward Finny. During the summer session at Devon, the two boys certainly spend a lot of time together, and Gene admires Finny for his athletic ability, optimistic perspective, and charisma. However, Gene begins to envy Finny and cannot reciprocate his feelings when Finny says that Gene is his "best pal" towards the end of chapter 3. After Gene ends up failing his trigonometry test because he spent the previous day at the beach with Finny, he misinterprets Finny's intentions and vows to keep his guard up. Gene's low self-esteem and competitive nature prevent him from genuinely embracing Finny as his best friend. Gene even makes Finny fall from a tree by purposely shaking the branch, which leaves Finny incapacitated. While Gene does admire Finny, his selfish nature and lack of confidence prevent him from being best friends with Finny. While Finny views Gene as his "best pal," Gene views Finny as a superior athlete and his competition. Only after Finny suffers his serious injury does Gene begin to appreciate and view Finny as his best friend.

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Gene and Finny are indeed best friends, though their personalities make them an odd couple. Gene is reserved, studious, and lacking in self-confidence while Finny is charismatic, athletic, and popular. More significantly, they view the world in fundamentally different ways. Finny is trusting and does not question the motives of others, nor does he seek their approval. When he breaks the school swimming record, for example, he asks that Gene not tell anyone. Gene, on the other hand, is jealous of Finny's popularity and especially his ability to flout rules and his seemingly effortless success at athletics. He assumes that Finny must be jealous of him too, and that his attempts to pry him away from his studies are really motivated by a desire to ruin his grades. It is when he realizes that Finny is not, in fact, jealous of him that he jiggles the tree branch, forcing Finny to fall to the ground. Finny, it seems, is more of a true friend than is Gene, though Gene's lifelong feelings of guilt suggest that he cared deeply for his friend.

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