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When Finny invents blitzball, he makes up the rules as he goes along, even as the game is furiously underway. This leads to confusion among the other boys. At one point, Finny tells Gene to tackle Bobby Zane. Gene objects vehemently, arguing that Zane is on his team. Finny yells, "There aren't any teams in blitzball . . . we're all enemies." The idea that the boys are all enemies plays a role in the novel, as they do eventually demonstrate anger and conflict among themselves as the year progresses and their various fears intensify.
On another occasion, when he and Gene are alone at the Devon pool, Finny breaks the school swimming record of A. Hopkins Parker. Gene wants immediately for Finny to do it again the next day with witnesses so that his feat will become recognized by all. Finny refuses, telling Gene he isn't to discuss it. Nobody is to know:
No, I just wanted to see if I could do it. Now I know. But I don't want to do it in public.
This attitude is beyond Gene's understanding because he needs public recognition for his own accomplishments to counter his own insecurities. Finny's reaction shows, in contrast, his own security and independence. The seemingly innocent event soon leads to tragic consequences, however. Gene gives up the idea that he can compete with Finny on any level, and his feelings of despair and worthlessness lead to his causing Finny's fall from the tree by the river.
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