Gene and Finny are in many ways opposites. Gene is an intellectual who excels academically, Finny is an accomplished athlete with mediocre grades. Gene is self-conscious and reserved, Finny is very charming, outgoing, and filled with self-confidence. Gene is inclined to play by the rules, while Finny seems to get away with everything. Gene studies relentlessly, while Finny's athletic success seems to come naturally to him. Finny is honest, without pretension, and genuinely affectionate toward his friend. Gene is envious of Finny, and convinces himself that Finny is envious of his academic success, though he finds out that this is not true. Their differences lead to the tension that reaches a boiling point when Gene jostles Finny off the tree limb.