Chapter 1

Gene returns to the Devon School fifteen years after studying there and visits two places associated with his fears during World War II: a staircase and a tree with a branch sticking out over the river. When Gene was 16, he was shamed into jumping off that branch by his roommate Finny, who jumped first.

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Chapter 2

Finny suggests jumping from the tree again and forming the secret Super Suicide Society. Gene goes up the tree first and, when they get out on the branch, loses his balance. Finny catches him. It occurs to Gene that Finny may have saved his life.

Chapter 3

Gene decides he owes Finny no gratitude for saving his life because Finny was the one who put him in danger. Finny convinces other boys to join their society and creates some rules, including one requiring him and Gene to start each meeting by jumping from the tree. Finny convinces Gene to skip school and go to the beach. Finny says he is glad they are best friends; Gene starts to say the same but holds back.

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Chapter 4

Gene and Finny return from the beach just in time for Gene to take a test, which becomes the first he ever fails. Gene later reflects he was trying to be as successful academically as Finny was athletically. Finny urges Gene to join him at the river, where Finny proposes a double jump with Gene, but as they go out on the branch, Gene's knees bend, he jostles the branch, and Finny falls on the bank.

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Chapter 5

One of Finny's legs is shattered. The doctor says Finny will no longer be able to play sports. Gene claims he tried to prevent Finny from falling, and Finny apologizes for considering Gene the possible reason for his fall. Later, Gene goes to Finny's house and says he deliberately made Finny fall, which Finny refuses to believe.

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Chapter 6

Mr. Ludsbury berates Gene for engaging in illegal activities in the summer. Finny tells him, on the phone, that Gene must play sports for his sake, making Gene feel happy for becoming a part of Finny.

Chapter 7

Brinker, who lives across from Gene, accuses him of doing away with Finny to get the room just for himself. To relieve wartime labor shortages, the boys are paid to shovel snow off the railroad. They cheer troop trains and talk about joining the war. One night, after deciding to enlist, Gene returns to his room and finds Finny there.

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Chapter 8

Finny declares the war is a hoax orchestrated by old men to keep young people in their place. He convinces Gene to become an Olympic athlete as Finny had wanted to. Finny begins training Gene.

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Chapter 9

Leper becomes the first boy at school to enlist. Finny pulls Gene away from his other friends until Gene spends all his time with him, training for the Olympics. One day, a telegram from Leper arrives telling Gene he has escaped and asking Gene to come visit.

Chapter 10

Gene goes to Leper's home in Vermont, where Leper tells him he has deserted because the army was planning to discharge him for insanity and describes his hallucinations at training camp, making Gene run away.

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Chapter 11

Gene and Finny go to the Assembly Hall, where an audience gathers for an inquiry into Finny's accident. When Finny's and Gene's accounts differ, the two boys are sent to get Leper for his side of the story. Leper describes seeing one person shaking the other off the branch but refuses to name the boys. Finny leaves the room crying, and then is heard falling down the staircase.

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Chapter 12

Finny forces Gene to say that something crazy inside him made him jostle the branch, and he assures Gene that he believes him. After Finny dies during his surgery, Gene doesn't cry, not even at Finny's funeral, which he feels is his own as well.

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Chapter 13

Gene says that his war was fought at Devon, where he killed his enemy. He reflects that at some point, everyone realizes there is something hostile to them in the world, and no one is ever the same after such realization. Only Finny was never afraid of anyone.

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