Hola! I’m back. I’m having a really good few days, actually. I just got into NHS and I’m now TRN’s Online Editor-In-Chief; trnwired.org, for those interested. Not that my duties have taken effect. House of Dracula, the play I’m in, premieres this week, too.
But on to Finny and Gene, our probable lovers. Like a moron, I gave myself irreparable feels reading ASP fanfiction. SO MANY FEELS. MY GOD.
What difference did it make? It was just a game. It was good that Finny could shine at it. He could also shine at many other things, with people for instance, the others in our dormitory, the faculty; in fact, if you stopped to think about it, Finny could shine with everyone, he attracted everyone he met. I was glad of that too. Naturally. He was my roommate and my best friend.-page 32
Okay, other than showcasing Gene’s excessive jealousy of Finny, there’s something else here, too. Gene often reaffirms that Finny is his best friend. I wonder who he’s trying to convince that Finny’s just his pal.
Finny had tremendous loyalty to the class, as he did to any group he belonged to, beginning with him and me and radiating outward past the limits of humanity toward spirits and clouds and stars.-page 34
Hm. Finny’s loyalty beins with his and Gene’s relationship. This seems suggestive.
It made Finny seem too unusual for—not friendship, but too unusual for rivalry. And there were few relationships among us at Devon not based on rivalry.-page 37
Orrrr, too unusual for love. Gene does hesitate before settling over rivalry.
And then they go to the beach. It’s a pretty romantic experience, in my opinion.
He stayed in an hour, breaking off every few minutes to come back to me and talk. The sand was so hot from the all-day sunshine that I had to brush the top layer away in order to lie down on it, and Finny’s progress across the beach became a series of high, startled leaps.
The ocean, throwing up foaming sun-sprays across some nearby rocks, was winter cold. This kind of sunshine and ocean, with the accumulating roar of the surf and the salty, adventurous, flirting wind from the sea, always intoxicated Phineas. He was everywhere, he enjoyed himself hugely, he laughed out loud at passing sea gulls. And he did everything he could think of for me.
We had dinner at a hot dog stand, with our backs to the ocean and its now cooler wind, our faces toward the heat of the cooking range. Then we walked on toward the center of the beach, where there was a subdued New England strip of honky-tonks. The Boardwalk lights against the deepening blue sky gained an ideal, starry beauty and the lights from the belt of honky-tonks and shooting galleries and beer gardens gleamed with a quiet purity in the clear twilight.
Finny and I went along the Boardwalk in our sneakers and white slacks, Finny in a light blue polo shirt and I in a T-shirt. I noticed that people were looking fixedly at him, so I took a look myself to see why. His skin radiated a reddish copper glow of tan, his brown hair had been a little bleached by the sun, and I noticed that the tan made his eyes shine with a cool blue-green fire.
“Everybody’s staring at you,” he suddenly said to me. “It’s because of that movie-star tan you picked up this afternoon … showing off again.”–page 39
Okay, other than the fact this is totally a date, Finny tells Gene he has a movie star tan. You don’t say things like that to your male best friend, especially in 1942. and Gene notices people looking at his precious Finny and then describes why. They’re totally in love.
The last words of Finny’s usual nighttime monologue were, “I hope you’re having a pretty good time here. I know I kind of dragged you away at the point of a gun, but after all you can’t come to the shore with just anybody and you can’t come by yourself, and at this teen-age period in life the proper person is your best pal.” He hesitated and then added, “which is what you are,” and there was silence on his dune.
It was a courageous thing to say. Exposing a sincere emotion nakedly like that at the Devon School was the next thing to suicide. I should have told him then that he was my best friend also and rounded off what he had said. I started to; I nearly did. But something held me back. Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth.-page 40
In my opinion, when Finny hesitates, what he wants to say is, “I love you.” But he knows Gene. He knows Gene can’t accept his love. So he does what he can accept. And Gene nearly answers the same way: he can’t tell Finny how he really feels. Gene represents this as he doesn’t want to lie about his resentment of Finny. That’s probably true. But I think it’s also that he’s too afraid to say why he resents Finny: because he feels that he is unworthy of Finny and his love.
…is purely about Gene’s resentment of Finny. Gene represents this emotion like he simply cannot stand being inferior to Finny, and convinces himself Finny is trying to sabotage him. But he’s also deeply attracted to Finny. Even he admits that much. I believe the real reason Gene feels so injured by his inferiority is because it serves as an impairment in his and Finny’s relationship. In other words, he feels like he isn’t good enough for Finny. And that’s why he resents him. I don’t have any gay quotes for this chapter, because Gene is being paranoid and annoying the whole time.
None of us was allowed near the infirmary during the next days, but I heard all the rumors that came out of it. Eventually a fact emerged; it was one of his legs, which had been “shattered.” I couldn’t figure out exactly what this word meant, whether it meant broken in one or several places, cleanly or badly, and I didn’t ask. I learned no more, although the subject was discussed endlessly. Out of my hearing people must have talked of other things, but everyone talked about Phineas to me. I suppose this was only natural. I had been right beside him when it happened, I was his roommate.-page 53
Maybe no one has out right declared Gene and Finny a couple, but everyone senses their closeness.
This next quote is creepy as a mofo. But also pretty gay.
I spent as much time as I could alone in our room, trying to empty my mind of every thought, to forget where I was, even who I was. One evening when I was dressing for dinner in this numbed frame of mind, an idea occurred to me, the first with any energy behind it since Finny fell from the tree. I decided to put on his clothes. We wore the same size, and although he always criticized mine he used to wear them frequently, quickly forgetting what belonged to him and what to me. I never forgot, and that evening I put on his cordovan shoes, his pants, and I looked for and finally found his pink shirt, neatly laundered in a drawer. Its high, somewhat stiff collar against my neck, the wide cuffs touching my wrists, the rich material against my skin excited a sense of strangeness and distinction; I felt like some nobleman, some Spanish grandee.
But when I looked in the mirror it was no remote aristocrat I had become, no character out of daydreams. I was Phineas, Phineas to the life. I even had his humorous expression in my face, his sharp, optimistic awareness. I had no idea why this gave me such intense relief, but it seemed, standing there in Finny’s triumphant shirt, that I would never stumble through the confusions of my own character again.-page 54
Gene canot stand himself; he loves Phineas deeply. He wants to be as good as Finny, and so he pretends to be Finny. There’s something like love in that, even if it’s very creepy. Also, we learn Finny has an eye for fashion. *raises eyebrows* Yeah.
Dr. Stanpole hesitated, and I think glanced at me for a moment. “Sports are finished. As a friend you ought to help him face that and accept it. The sooner he does the better off he’ll be. If I had the slightest hope that he could do more than walk I’d be all for trying for everything. There is no such hope. I’m sorry, as of course everyone is. It’s a tragedy, but there it is.”
I grabbed my head, fingers digging into my skin, and the doctor, thinking to be kind, put his hand on my shoulder. At his touch I lost all hope of controlling myself. I burst out crying into my hands; I cried for Phineas and for myself and for this doctor who believed in facing things. Most of all I cried because of kindness, which I had not expected.
“Now that’s no good. You’ve got to be cheerful and hopeful. He needs that from you. He wanted especially to see you. You were the one person he asked for.”
That stopped my tears.-pages 55-56
This touches my heart a little. Finny has many friends. Gene is the only one he asks to see. Gene stops crying because he think Finny is going to accuse him, but maybe because this request reinforces that Finny does care about him more than any other friend.
The rest of Chapter 5 is pretty much Gene being paranoid.
“There’s a long-distance call for you,” he continued in the tone of the judge performing the disagreeable duty of telling the defendant his right. “I’ve written the operator’s number on the pad beside the telephone in my study. You may go in and call.”
“Thank you very much, sir.”
He sailed on down the lane without further reference to me, and I wondered who was sick at home.
But when I reached his study—low-ceilinged, gloomy with books, black leather chairs, a pipe rack, frayed brown rug, a room which students rarely entered except for a reprimand—I saw on the pad not an operator’s number from my home town, but one which seemed to interrupt the beating of my heart.
I called this operator, and listened in wonder while she went through her routine as though this were just any long-distance call, and then her voice left the line and it was pre-empted, and charged, by the voice of Phineas. “Happy first day of the new academic year!”
“Thanks, thanks a lot, it’s a—you sound—I’m glad to hear your—”
“Stop stuttering, I’m paying for this. Who’re you rooming with?”
“Nobody. They didn’t put anyone else in the room.”
“Saving my place for me! Good old Devon. But anyway, you wouldn’t have let them put anyone else in there, would you?” Friendliness, simple outgoing affection, that was all I could hear in his voice.
“No, of course not.”
“I didn’t think you would. Roommates are roommates. Even if they do have an occasional fight. God you were crazy when you were here.”
“I guess I was. I guess I must have been.”
“Completely over the falls. I wanted to be sure you’d recovered. That’s why I called up. I knew that if you’d let them put anybody else in the room in my place then you really were crazy. But you didn’t, I knew you wouldn’t. Well, I did have just a trace of doubt that was because you talked so crazy here. I have to admit I had just a second when I wondered. I’m sorry about that, Gene. Naturally I was completely wrong. You didn’t let them put anyone else in my spot.”
“No, I didn’t let them.”
“I could shoot myself for thinking you might. I really knew you wouldn’t.”
“No, I wouldn’t.”
“And I spent my money on a long-distance call! All for nothing. Well, it’s spent, on you too. So start talking, pal. And it better be good. Start with sports. What are you going out for?”
“Crew. Well, not exactly crew. Managing crew. Assistant crew manager.”
“Assistant crew manager!”
“I don’t think I’ve got the job—”
“Assistant crew manager!”
“I got in a fight this after—”
“Assistant crew manager! ” No voice could course with dumfoundment like Finny’s “You are crazy!”
“Listen, Finny, I don’t care about being a big man on the campus or anything.”
“Whaaat?” Much more clearly than anything in Mr. Ludsbury’s study I could see his face now, grimacing in wide, obsessed stupefaction. “Who said anything about whoever they are!”
“Well then what are you so worked up for?”
“What do you want to manage crew for? What do you want to manage for? What’s that got to do with sports?”
The point was, the grace of it was, that it had nothing to do with sports. For I wanted no more of sports. They were barred from me, as though when Dr. Stanpole said, “Sports are finished” he had been speaking of me. I didn’t trust myself in them, and I didn’t trust anyone else. It was as though football players were really bent on crushing the life out of each other, as though boxers were in combat to the death, as though even a tennis ball might turn into a bullet. This didn’t seem completely crazy imagination in 1942, when jumping out of trees stood for abandoning a torpedoed ship. Later, in the school swimming pool, we were given the second stage in that rehearsal: after you hit the water you made big splashes with your hands, to scatter the flaming oil which would be on the surface.
So to Phineas I said, “I’m too busy for sports,” and he went into his incoherent groans and jumbles of words, and I thought the issue was settled until at the end he said, “Listen, pal, if I can’t play sports, you’re going to play them for me,” and I lost part of myself to him then, and a soaring sense of freedom revealed that this must have been my purpose from the first: to become a part of Phineas. pages 75-77
Gene’s heart stops beating when he recognizes Finny’s number. Tell me that hasn’t happened when a guy or girl you liked called you. And Finny’s reason for calling to reassure himself that Gene is still there, waiting for him to return. Finny’s finding out if Gene still feels the same way about him. And the end of the call? Gene feels elated when he realizes that he can be an important part of Finny’s life. See how this works with my inferiority complex theory?
Next time: Chapters 7,8, 9, 10.