Finally, they both have a glass of beer and settle down to rest, side by side as they watch the sunset.
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-- "Nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not a death by violence." As one reads the first chapter, this statement feels like it is meant to be the novel's thesis. "Not a tree." The narrator feels that the mighty tree which in a way took his best friend's life has perished. It's quite plain that it could definitely be, and in fact probably is, Finny.
"Not a death by violence." He seems to feel that he's finally gotten over Finny's death. "Not love." Obviously, Gene is telling us that his beloved, the one thing he cherished above all else, is gone. Just how Gene loved him is not explicitly stated, but as with all works of literature or anything else, for that matter, we must infer from what is given and reach a logical conclusion. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete.
The narrator at this point in the story is a sixteen-year-old schoolboy, the likes of which as a group are notorious for thinking only of sex. -- The whole situation with the pink shirt could easily have been left out without taking anything from the story.
Knowles could simply have made Finny's emblem the wearing of the school tie as a belt.
He doesn't quite seem to know what they are, but he certainly doesn't feel comfortable with them, and he definitely doesn't like them.
It is arguable throughout the novel that this is partly because his feelings are more than friendship.
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