Finny dies that afternoon, when some marrow from the break gets into his blood. Gene spends the night wandering the campus and feeling as if he doesn't exist. He rises quickly and tells Finny that he has something terrible to say to him. Ne Plus Ultra Latin the ultimate; especially the finest, best, most perfect, etc. There are two important places that Gene most wants to see. He notes that Finny asked to see Gene specifically, from which Gene concludes that Finny must want to accuse him to his face.
Stanpole announces that Finny's better and he maintains the optimistic view that Finny will someday walk again. Leper has deserted the military in order to avoid getting discharged for insanity. The fake war theory represents Finny's active, rebellious involvement in the wider world. This bizarre act symbolizes the extent to which Gene has blurred, and continues to blur, the line that separates his own identity from that of his best friend. He makes his way past the school's playing fields to the river and trees at its banks.
Blitzball and the Suicide Society occupy the rest of the day and evening, and Gene begins to suspect that Finny is deliberately keeping him from studying. He finds Finny propped up before a fireplace with hospital-type pillows. The feeling of transformation lasts through the night but is gone in the morning, and Gene is confronted once more with what he has caused, whether or not deliberately, to happen to Finny. Finny also spots Leper skulking around the school. Here the term refers to an academic award Gene hopes to win at graduation. Finny's reaction, in its innocence and simplicity, overwhelms Gene, because he recognizes that Finny regards excellence in academics as a natural ability, just like his own agility and strength in sports.
Gene asks if Finny recalls what made him lose his balance in the first place. The term describes any of a class of wise and holy persons held in special regard or reverence. He feels relief when he looks in the mirror. Finny is about to jump from the tree branch hanging near the river, a physical test no boy his age has ever attempted. Gene has decided that pursuits like sports feel trivial in light of the war, but Finny argues that war is just a creation of fat old men who want to control the younger generation.
The night before an important French examination, Finny announces that Leper is finally going to jump from the tree and so become a member of the Suicide Society. Gene asks him what happened up there in the tree. Stanpole comes in and tells Gene it's time to go. The narrator heads back in out of the rain, and we head back in his memory to his days as a schoolboy at Devon. Here, then, in a remote Vermont farmhouse, far from the action, war exists in Gene himself, as a confused burden of fear, anger, and blind impulse. Gene now decides that Finny must be his deadly rival, and that his playful roommate plans a deliberate plot to undermine the studying that Gene requires to become the best student in the school. Sports have been forever destroyed for Finny.
Gene tries to confess to Finny what he did, but can't make himself do it before the summer ends. Stanpole enters, and Gene is sent away. Gene goes to Leper's home in Vermont, where they have an argument in which Leper really does seem half-insane and accuses Gene of willfully causing Finny's fall. The next morning he again visits Finny, and together the two boys agree that Gene's actions at the tree were not purposeful. In answering Leper's strange call, Gene experiences what the war will be for him — not terrifying combat, but long, dark journeys without a clear purpose. He storms out and falls down a nearby set of stairs and re-breaks his leg. Summary The boys ride back from the beach to Devon, arriving just in time for Gene's trigonometry test — the first examination Gene fails.
The boys all graduate, and enlist in various safe branches of the military. The confrontation, with its revelation about his nature, forces Gene to retreat into a comforting self-image, just as the emotionally wounded Leper has retreated to his home. No one is allowed to visit him in the infirmary. Sullenly, Gene agrees to go, but he tells Finny angrily that it will ruin his chances for a good grade in French. The fall shatters Finny's leg.
Both boys climb the tree and stand on the limb above the river. Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1948 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Hindu nationalist leader and social reformer, assassinated; called Mahatma. After the meal, they walk through the snow together, and Gene tries to talk to Leper calmly. Here, Gene jokes that if Leper can find the courage to jump from the tree, than Gene is as holy as the Indian leader. Paradoxically, by not playing the game of rivalry, Finny wins — or so it seems to Gene. But in the dawn, by the roaring ocean, Gene can only think about limits and rules. The destruction of his deadly rival, it seems, liberates Gene to behave as Finny does — freely, easily, with unconscious grace.
Finny responds to this idyllic morning with characteristic action, proposing a quick swim. The narrator walks through said grey wetness to the First Academy Building, describing the school grounds in lovely literary detail, which you should check out. So it's just the narrator and Finny who have accomplished the feat. Finny hints that he had a vague notion that Gene was the cause, but he refuses to accept this idea and apologizes for even considering it. To make himself feel better, he dresses up one day in Finny's clothes. He had defined himself as Finny's rival and equal, and then discovered that he wasn't. Close to the trunk, Gene jounces the limb and watches Finny lose his balance and fall heavily to the bank.
After all the training and travelling, he explains, the war was nearly over, and so he never saw battle. And decides that he would tell the truth. Because it's the summer session, there are only about two hundred students around — most of the campus is empty. As Gene and Finny stand together on the limb, the scene recalls their earlier double jump, when Finny's quick action saves Gene from falling. As the Biblical allusions make clear, the sleeping Finny seems like Lazarus returned to life, and the white sand that surrounds the awakening boys recalls Eden. As a result, this chapter — the only one set entirely away from Devon — stands as a pivotal moment in the novel, because its drama sets in motion the action of the concluding three chapters as well as the tragic crisis of the story, which turns on Leper's reappearance at Devon. No one is allowed to see Finny at the infirmary.