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Gene is introduced to Brinker's dad, and says that he has joined the Navy. Brinker has joined the Coast Guard, probably part of his scheme to stay out of battle. Brinker's dad is very gung-ho about the military, and gives the boys a speech about having a good military record, and how people will respect them based on what they did for the war. Brinker obviously doesn't agree.
Gene then talks about Finny, and his experience in the war; how Finny was the only person he knew whose character was safe from being corrupted by the war, and how his friendship with Finny prepared him for his own experience. In lieu of Finny, he has finally adopted Finny's way of looking at things, and some of Finny's personality and rebelliousness. Finny means a lot to him and still influences him, and Gene is finally able to appreciate his friend for all that he was, and make peace with him.