By Cary M. Roberts

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At this point, Finny's paradoxical nature still prevents the ordered Gene from coming to a full understanding of Finny. For example, Finny says one should speak honestly and truthfully when telling how tall one is. " These statements are paradoxical, since one involves complete and absolute honesty, while the other involves insincerity and deception. We see also in this chapter the extent to which sports are important to Finny. Besides the beauty of the game, they also represent a challenge. This challenge can be seen by the limits that are imposed by the human body, but Finny is the type who revolts against authority, even that dictated by one's own body; consequently, he will attempt any event requiring a little more strength than is usually demanded by the body.

Yet, Finny feels that one always wins at sports, forgetting that if one person wins, another must lose. This again is Finny's paradoxical nature carried over into the realm of sports. Finny's invention of the game of blitzball indicates further his concept of the relationship between life and sports. He has rejected badminton because it was required by the authorities, because it was rather decadent, and because it did not demand any exceptional physical endeavor. In its place he creates the game of blitzball.

The mud that he plows through is somewhat symbolic. When Gene first jumps from the tree, he lands in the soft mud at the bottom of the river. Thus, his trudging through the mud here suggests a return to elemental emotions and elemental fears. The rain is also symbolic andas will be noted throughout the novelrain and water play an important symbolic role in Gene's life. When he arrives at the river, he observes that there is a fog hanging over it, which obscures his vision. He cannot see so clearly the things which were so important to him as a youth.

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