The setting takes place at the Devon School in New Hampshire. Gene Forrester-class nerd, mediocre athlete,
and envious booger is best friends with roomate Finny. Foolhardy Finny and Gene decided to jump off this tree into a
river. This is usually only for the older students at the Devon School who are about to be recruited into the army. This stunt
ends up becoming a ritual for a secret society the boys form.
Gene incorrectly suspects that Finny is trying to sabotage his academic goals by distracting him with games
such as "blitzball" (modern day kill-the-carrier). He thinks this because Finny is not as smart as he is and he is trying
to become his superior. Later on Gene realizes through Finny's actions that he has suspected Finny of something that was totally
off the mark. Finny really likes Gene and isn't trying to sabotage him. The two become closer and in sparknotes they actually
mention that they might be gay... as in homosexual.
One night when the two are about to start off the society's meeting with their jumping off the tree, Gene's
knees bend and causes the branch to shake. Finny loses his balance and crashes to the ground. The reader doesn't really know
whether Gene did this purpose. Personally, I think he did.
Finney's leg is shattered and his atheletic days are over. When the Dr. tells Gene this, he is overwhelmed
with guilt and begins to cry. He wants to confess to Finney that he is the cause. However, when he is about to, the Dr. comes
in and tells Gene to leave.
The summer session at Devon is over, and the new school year begins again. World War II is going full throttle
and many of the boys consider enlisting. Brinker, a straitlaced classs politician, asks Gene to enlist with him. Gene agrees.
However, that night Finny returns to school and Gene decides not to enlist anymore. Finny believes that the war is just some
scheme by fat old men to keep the younger generation in place.
The Devon boys later learn that Leper, a quiet and nature loving boy, has enlisted. This makes the war seem
that much real to the boys. Brinker, always on the quest for justice begins to question Gene's committment to Finny. He believes
that he intentionally shook the tree branch. Brinker subpoenas Finny and Gene to a makeshift trial and question
the boys. The two boys try to play it off until Leper appears. Leper had gone AWOL- he deserted and has become crazy.
He testifies that Gene shook the branch intentionally. Finny doesn't want to hear it and runs away- he falls down the
stairs and breaks his leg again.
Gene sneaks to infirmary to check up on his buddy who has lost faith in him. The next morning, Gene sees
Finny and takes full responsibility for the tradegdy. The boys reconcile and Finny tells Gene to visit him in the afternoon
after his operation. The two then part their ways.
Gene returns in the afternoon and the doctor tells him the Finny died. While setting the bones
back into place, marrow escaped into the bloodstream and went straight to the heart. Finny died instantly. Gene doesn't
cry, which makes the reader wonder if Gene is somewhat happy. Yet later, he mentions as if he has lost part of himself.
He contemplates the past year and the hatred which is deep rooted in every humans heart-save for Finny.