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In: Business and Management

Submitted By johnny123123
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Themes, Motifs & Symbols
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
The Threat of Codependency to Identity
The central relationship in the novel—that between Finny and Gene—involves a complex dynamic of seeking to establish, yet being uncomfortable with, identity. Early in the book, the boys’ relationship seems fueled, in part, by Gene’s envy and resentment of his friend’s dominating spirit. As Finny demonstrates his physical prowess, Gene feels the need to accentuate his academic prowess. Finny’s fall from the tree, however, apparently purges Gene of his darker feelings and steers their relationship in a different direction so that codependency rather than envy characterizes it. The scene immediately following the fall symbolizes this evolution, as Gene dresses in Finny’s clothes and sees himself as looking exactly like him. From this point on, he and Finny come to depend on each other for psychological support. Gene plays sports because Finny cannot, allowing Finny to train him to be the athlete that Finny himself cannot be. This training seems an avenue for Finny simply to live vicariously through Gene. But Gene actively welcomes this attempt by Finny, for just as Finny derives inner strength from fulfilling his dreams through Gene, so, too, does Gene find happiness in losing his own self (which he seems to dislike) in Finny’s self (which he likes very much).
Thus, the boys’ relationship becomes a model of codependency, with each feeding off of, and becoming fulfilled by, the other. This codependency preempts the development of their individual identities, perhaps dangerously: by living within their own private illusion that World War II is a mere conspiracy and continuing to believe that Gene (and Finny through him) will go to the Olympics and that the...

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