The strange manner of Finny’s death seems to suggest a fundamental flaw in the codependency that marks his relationship with Gene. Gene and Finny rely on each other to deal with the anxieties of adolescence and the encroaching war and seem to need each other in order to survive. Their relationship allows them to reinforce for each other the self-delusion that the war is a conspiracy, that the Olympics will take place as usual, that they need never grow up and face reality. The blurring of their identities into a haven of blitheness and Olympic glory against the tribulations that they know await them prevents them from properly navigating the difficulties of adolescence and maturing into adulthood. For Finny, the implications of this failure to gain a more astute understanding of the world are tragic. He is never able to understand that, unlike him, other people do have enemies and are not always content. One can argue that the stray bit of marrow that plugs Finny’s heart symbolizes Gene’s underlying resentment toward the unsuspecting Finny—a resentment that permeates his desire to be a part of Finny.
Gene’s reflections on Finny’s death suggest that, whether or not the friends’ intense bond actually causes Finny’s death, the bond between them will last beyond death. In the moment of Finny’s passing, the boys are symbolically still a part of each other. Gene himself recognizes this fact, as evident from his remark that Finny’s funeral feels like his own. In a sense, the funeral is his own. Gene is merged with Finny to so great an extent that it is difficult to imagine one boy continuing to exist without the other.