| Quote #1
The class above, seniors, draft-bait, practically soldiers, rushed ahead of us toward the war. They were caught up in accelerated courses and first-aid programs and a physical hardening regimen, which included jumping from this tree (1.27).
Look how warfare is tied to games right from the beginning. There is something war-like about Finny and Gene jumping from the tree; the seeds of violence are sown in the reader's mind.
| Quote #2
Bombs in Central Europe were completely unreal to us here, not because we couldn't imagine it […] but because our place here was too fair for us to accept something like that. We spent that summer in complete selfishness, I'm happy to say. The people in the world who could be selfish in the summer of 1942 were a small band, and I'm glad we took advantage of it (2.44).
"Selfishness" is an interesting interpretation of youthful naiveté. As we'll see later in the novel, Gene grows past this state – but Finny never does.
| Quote #3
Everyone has a moment in history which belongs particularly to him. It is the moment when his emotions achieve their most powerful sway over him, and afterward when you say to this person "the world today" or "life" or "reality" he will assume that you mean this moment, even if it is fifty years past. The world, through his unleashed emotions, imprinted itself upon him, and he carries the stamp of that passing moment forever (3.42).
Gene claims that his "moment" is the war, but it is also his own state of enmity concerning Finny – his own private war and the emotions that go with it.