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The Gratitude of Life Essay

1. The narrator returns to Devon to see the marble stairs and the tree. 2. Phineas, also known as Finny, is the narrator’s roommate and best friend. 3. Phineas talks Gene into jumping from the tree into the water. 4. The boys were not punished for jumping out of the tree because Finny reminded the faculty of a time of peace. 5. Mr. Prud’homme was the substitute master for the summer session. Mr. Patch-withers was the substitute headmaster. He was also one of the sternest headmasters. 6. The Super Suicide Society of the summer sessions was a pact made by Finny and Gene to remain friends and conquer dangers they may face together. 7. Gene didn’t need to feel any gratitude towards Phineas because it was Finny’s idea to jump off the tree. If Finny had never suggested jumping off the tree, Gene wouldn’t have jumped. 8. Gene continued jumping off the tree limb even though he didn’t want to because he didn’t want to lose face with Phineas. Gene also wanted to remain friends with Finny, and was afraid that defying him in such a way would end their friendship.

9. Blitzball was a game conceived by Finny after expressing his distaste for badminton. The ball was a heavy medicine ball. When receiving the ball, you ran and eventually passed the ball to someone else. There were no teams; instead everyone was enemies with each other. 10. Gene describes his memories of the war years as an extremely negative time. He thought people moved quickly, important things were rare, trains were always late, and as a whole: an extremely horrible time. 11. The swimming record shows Phineas is extremely athletic, gifted, talented, and modest. Finny did not seek recognition. He only wanted the satisfaction of knowing he beat the record. 12. Phineas had just told Gene that he, Gene, was his best friend at Devon school.

Chapters 4-5

1. Gene realizes Phineas was jealous of Gene’s being head of the class, and he had deliberately set out to wreck Gene’s studies 2. Finny and Gene argued over whether or not Gene should study or go watch Leper jump from the tree. At first Gene said he needed to study and that Leper wouldn’t jump anyway. Phineas agreed it would be okay if Gene wouldn’t go. Suddenly, Gene felt as if he had to go, which he did. 3. Phineas broke his leg after falling from the tree. Gene deliberately bounced the tree limb, which caused Finny to fall. Finny’s sports career was over. 4. Phineas told him that he just fallen. Before Gene could confess that he had jumped on the limb, Dr. Stanpole came in. 5. Phineas doesn’t want to believe it. When he realized that this was true, he wanted Gene to leave.

Chapters 6-7

1. When Gene states, “If you broke the rules, then they broke you,” he means the boys of the summer session were not supposed to be jumping from the tree as it was against the rules. Gene figured that the tragedy with Phineas was their payment for breaking the rules. 2. Cliff Quackenbush was the crew manager of the rowing team. He was a physically mature student and was rude to almost everyone. 3. Gene got in a fight with Quackenbush and hit him. Both Quackenbush and Gene ended up in the river. 4. The long distance call was from Finny.

5. Gene feels a sense of freedom because he feels forgiven by Phineas and was given a way to make up for his cruelness. He also feels that he and Finny would be even closer friends from this point forward: “…this must have been my purpose from the start: to become a part of Phineas.” 6. Brinker Hadley proposes that gene bounced on the limb purposely to make Finny fall off. 7. Gene leaves the Butt Room without smoking a cigarette because the boys in the Butt Room, led by Brinker Hadley, strongly insinuate that they know Gene is responsible for Phineas’ accident. Gene is so shaken that he wishes only to escape, to leave. Using French studies as an excuse, he exits. 8. The good deed performed by the boys at Devon was shoveling the railroad tracks so the troop train could get through. 9. Gene says that Brinker “couldn’t be put off with half a story.” 10. Gene and Brinker decided to enlist.

11. Gene decided not to enlist because Finny returned.
Chapters 8-9

1. Finny tried to convince Gene that there was no war. Instead, fat old men made it up so they would have the best stuff while the rest of the country suffered. 2. Finny wanted to train him for the 1944 Olympics. The Olympics had been cancelled because of the war. 3. Mr. Ludsbury didn’t know that the war was just propaganda from fat old men because he was thin. 4. Leper was the first to enlist. 5. Leper’s enlistment created a connection with the war to the boys at Devon. 6. Phineas invented the Winter Carnival. 7. Gene’s telegram was from Leper. He had escaped from the Army and needed help.

Chapters 10-11

1. Leper went AWOL because he was about to get a Section Eight discharge from the Army. 2. Gene told Leper to shut up. He didn’t want to hear it. It didn’t have anything to do with him. Gene ran away and left Leper alone. 3. Gene only wanted to see Finny because he was removed from the war, and Gene did not wish to her anything war related. 4. Brinker was talking about Leper and Finny’s inability to fight during any duration of the war. 5. Leper’s illness made the war real and inescapable to Phineas. He could no longer pretend that it didn’t exist.

He also realized that he would not be a part of it. 6. Brinker believed that Finny should face his disability and move on. Gene believed that Phineas’ disability should be ignored. 7. Brinker took Gene and Finny to the First Building. He had a group of students who were to investigate Finny’s accident to determine Gene’s guilt or innocence. Brinker wanted all the facts to be out in the open. 8. Finny rushed out of the room because he did not want to face the fact that Gene was responsible. 9. After Phineas ran out of the room, he fell down the marble staircase.

Chapters 12-13

1. Gene didn’t do anything to help Phineas because he again felt responsible. He felt Finny would only get more upset by seeing him. 2. Gene snuck into the infirmary to apologize to Phineas. 3. Gene meant that Phineas was the kind of person who would jump across enemy lines at night to pay a social call. By being so friendly with everyone and having his gift of gab, the whole war would become a mess. Gene basically told Finny that he would make a horrible soldier. 4. Phineas died. Bone marrow got into his blood stream, which killed him instantly. 5. The irony in Gene’s part of the war is that after all of that concern about the war and everyone’s role in it, the war ended before he got into uniform.


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