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The Devon River symbolised school days, Devon Prep, and the tranquility of their surroundings. The Devon River was familiar, the Naguessett foreign and ominous. As the story progresses, at least for Gene and Finny, the meanings of the two rivers converge somewhat. The guilt and shame surrounding Finny's accident (in the Devon River) take on unfamiliar territory. The feelings are ugly, muddy and uncertain.