Gene unfolds the painful story of his growth in a New England prep school during World War II, when his jealousy caused Finny's tragic fall. Phineas Finny Gene's roommate and best friend. A gifted athlete, Finny represents freedom and good nature. His fall from the tree ends his competition in sports and ultimately costs him his life.
Plot summary[ edit ] Gene Forrester, the protagonist, returns to his old prep school, Devon a thinly veiled portrayal of Knowles' alma mater, Phillips Exeter Academy fifteen years after he graduated, to visit two places he regards as "fearful sites": First, he examines the stairs and notices that they are made of very hard marble.
He then goes to the tree, which brings back memories of Gene's time as a student at Devon. From this point, the novel follows Gene's description of the time span from the summer A separate peace character overview gene to the summer of Inhe was 16 and living at Devon with his best friend and roommate, Phineas nicknamed Finny.
At the time, World War II is taking place and has a prominent effect on the story. Gene and Finny, despite being opposites in personality, are close friends at Devon: Gene's quiet, introverted, intellectual personality is a character foil for Finny's extroverted, carefree, athleticism.
During his time at Devon, Gene goes through a period of intense kinship with Finny. One of Finny's ideas during Gene's "gypsy summer" of is to create a "Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session", with Gene and himself as charter members. Finny creates a rite of initiation by having members jump into the Devon River from a large, high tree.
Gene and Finny's friendship goes through a period of fun, one-sided rivalry during which Gene strives to out-do Finny academically, since he believes Finny is trying to out-do him.
This rivalry begins with Gene's jealousy towards Finny. This rivalry climaxes and is ended when, as Finny and Gene are about to jump off the tree, Gene impulsively jounces the branch they are standing on, causing Finny to fall and shatter his leg, permanently crippling him.
Because of his "accident", Finny learns that he will never again be able to compete in sports, which are most dear to him. This leads to Gene starting to think like Finny to try to be a better person and to try to solve some of his envy towards him.
The remainder of the story revolves around Gene's attempts to come to grips with who he is, why he shook the branch, and how he will go forward. Gene feels so guilty that he tells Finny that he caused Finny's fall. At first Finny does not believe him and afterward feels extremely hurt.
World War II soon occupies the schoolboys' time, with student Brinker Hadley rallying the boys to help the war effort and Gene's quiet friend Leper Lepellier joining the Ski Troops and becoming severely traumatized by what he sees.
During a meeting of the Golden Fleece Debating Society, Brinker sets up a show trial and, based upon his shaking of the branch, accuses Gene of trying to kill Finny.
Faced with the evidence, Finny leaves shamefully before Gene's deed is confirmed. On his way out, Finny falls down a flight of stairs the same ones Gene visits at the beginning of the novel and again breaks the leg he had shattered before.
Finny at first dismisses Gene's attempts to apologize, but he soon realizes that the "accident" was impulsive and not anger-based. The two forgive each other. The next day, Finny dies during the operation to set the bone when bone marrow enters his bloodstream during the surgery.
Gene observes that many people lash out at others in order to protect themselves from their own insecurities, and the only person he knew who didn't do that was Finny, as he was the only person Gene knew who was truly honest, and who never had an internal war to fight.
Back in the present, an older Gene muses on peace, war, and enemies. Characters[ edit ] Gene Forrester: A Separate Peace is told from Gene's point of view. Gene focuses on, and succeeds at, academics. He envies his roommate Finny's graceful, easy athleticism and social prowess.
Gene is from "three states from Texas", and is therefore somewhat unaccustomed to Northeastern culture. Gene causes his best friend's fall in his suppressed envy, by making a small but deliberate quick move on a tree branch from which Phineas would not otherwise have fallen. He is the main character.
Gene's best friend and roommate; an incorrigible, good natured, athletic, daredevil type. In Gene's opinion, he can never leave anything well enough alone, and could always get away with anything.
He always sees the best in others, seeks internal fulfillment free of accolades, and shapes the world around himself to fit his desires. He is a prodigious athlete, succeeding in every sport until his leg is shattered in his fall from the tree.
Brinker is a classmate and friend of Gene and Finny's. He ceaselessly strives for order during the Winter Session at Devon.The main character in A Separate Peace by John Knowles, struggles with jealousy, insecurity, and guilt which all become main themes in the novel.
The main character and narrator is Gene Forrester. Gene and Finny are students at the Devon School, an English prep school for boys. In the summer of , a group of boys form the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session under Finny's.
Characters See a complete list of the characters in A Separate Peace and in-depth analyses of Gene Forrester, Finny, Elwin “Leper” Lepellier, and Brinker Hadley.
Gene's best friend and classmate at the Devon School. Finny is an extraordinarily talented athlete and a charismatic student leader who's earned the respect and admiration of the entire student body.
Finny is an extraordinarily talented athlete and a charismatic student leader who's earned the respect and admiration of the entire student body. Gene is the narrator and protagonist of A Separate Peace. He suffers from many of the ailments you're probably all familiar with, or will be shortly, from your own sixteen-year-old days: self-consciousness, uncertainty, jealousy, an identity crisis or two, and really annoying seniors with duck-and-shrubbery related names (Quackenbush, for those of you who don't speak crossword puzzle).
He offers to talk with Gene about Finny's accident, but Gene changes the subject. Like Dr. Stanpole, Latham represents the sympathetic, but powerless, adult. Previous About A Separate Peace.