The giant tree from which Finny
falls looms in Gene's
memory. As an adult, he imagines it as a "huge lone spike" or an "artillery piece," but when he sees it up close during his return visit to Devon, it looks small and unthreatening. Though the tree stayed the same, Gene realizes he has changed and grown past its ability to define or scare him. The tree is therefore a symbol of both the carefree joy and particular fears of boys growing into men, and a symbol that in time men can leave those fears behind.