To most people a dream is just a part of the imagination, of course it would be ideal for it to come true, but the average person can see the difference from a dream to reality. The average person knows not to trust people blindly, knows to do what is best for them, they understand that occasionally one must put their dreams aside for it will not work with the world around them, they understand how to adjust their dream to reality. Of course this is just the average person. The characters Finny and Neil are both dreamers and idealists and were therefore destined to die for they could not live in a world where dreams are only dreams and reality includes hate, jealousy and practicalists. Finny was unable to live a life where his best friend hated him. Neil was in able of living a life in military school. Both could only live the dream.
Finny and Neil are both optimists and through their attitudes towards everyday life one can clearly see their misconceptions of reality. Finny believed that “You always win at sports.” (26) He felt this way because to him, sports were always fun. In a dream world, everyone would win in sports but in reality, there is always a loser. From Finny’s simple idea, it is clear that he can not adjust to a world where not everyone wins. Neil’s misconception of reality can be shown through how he only saw the good of the Dead Poet’s Society, not the danger of it, when clearly the society lead to the boys doing crazy things such as the article in the newspaper. Neil also never considered money when choosing a job. His father was completely focused on money, while Neil was the opposite. Neil wanted to be an actor when in reality actors rarely make a lot of money. Neil’s father tried so hard to teach him the lesson of choosing a career that pays well yet Neil never understood that.
Another lesson one must learn is to never follow someone or something blindly. One must analyze and think for themselves before trusting or following what anyone says. Both Finny and Neil followed people blindly which ultimately resulted in death. Finny trusted Gene with his entire heart and soul. He could never suspect anything of Gene because “it’s important for me to believe you. Christ-I’ve got to believe you, at least. I know you better than anyone” (154). Finny would not let his own observations get in the way, he completely trusted Gene when he even had “a kind of feeling.” (58). Finny trusted Gene more than he trusted himself. Finny’s blind trust resulted in him being so vulnerable to Gene. Neil took everything Mr. Keeting said to heart. From the first class, he took what Mr. Keeting said and made it his principles for life. Neil trusted Mr. Keeting’s word without even questioning them. Because Neil did that, he misunderstood Mr. Keeting’s words, and instead of “sucking the marrow out of life” he “choked on the bone.”
In fear of choking on the bone, both Finny and Neil preferred not knowing the truth rather than accepting it. Finny undoubtedly knew that Gene deliberately pushed him off the tree but convinced himself that “I must have just lost my balance. It must have been that” (58). Finny needed to believe in Gene. He felt that Gene was his best friend and if he couldn’t believe in Gene, then the structure of his life would fall apart. It was more important for Finny to believe in Gene rather than to know the truth. What Neil wanted more than anything was to be an actor, but he knew his father would not approve, so instead of trying to come to an agreement with his father, he lied to Mr. Keeting about having permission. Neil could not deal with obstacles, so he avoided them. He could not make compromises or sacrifices so he hid from the truth and lied. It was more important for Neil to secure his dream as opposed to finding away to make it work in reality. He could not accept the potential of losing his dream.
When both Finny and Neil were faced with their dream world being shattered both their lives resulted in death. Gene meant everything to Finny and when Finny was forced to face the truth he ran away from it and fell down the stairs. This incident led to his death. Finny died of a broken heart. His innocence and Gene letting him down killed him inside and ultimately outside too. Neil’s dream was to be an actor. When his father threatened to force him into military school for ten years, Neil came to the conclusion that “But that’s ten more years…Father that’s a lifetime.” Neil wanted to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life, and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived” Neil felt that if he were forced to live the life his father wanted it would not be as if he were living so he felt he had no choice but to kill himself. He looked at the situation as black and white, either the dream, to become and actor, or the death sentence, and because of his inability to adjust his dream or express himself; Neil’s life was cut short.
In conclusion, Finny and Neil were both destined to die because their souls were too innocent and naïve to adjust to the backstabbing and challenges of our society. Finny could not live with Gene being responsible for his accident and Neil could not live in military school. Neither could imagine a life unlike the vision in their head. Both Finny and Neil were honest, innocent and talented boys, unfortunately what they also had in common was they were naïve, trusting, and idealists who wanted to live the dream and only the dream. They could not understand that one must work for their dreams in order for it to become reality. They were not like the average person; they trusted people blindly, could not handle the truth, and had many misconceptions of reality. They were optimists and were great people but as Billy Joel’s song goes, “Only the Good Die Young”, for the good, Finny and Neil, are naïve and vulnerable to society and therefore are incapable of living in this world.
Courtney from Study Moose