He is the one who convinces Gene to cast of the carefree nature of childhood and accept his adult obligations by enlisting. Finny tries to cheer him up and assures him that he works too hard anyway.
They go to the gym and Gene worries that this will make Finny remember his former athletic status and get upset. Finny lies and says that Gene was on the ground looking up at him. The next morning, he goes to see Finny again, takes full blame for the tragedy, apologizes, and tries to explain that his action did not arise from hatred.
Finny tells Gene that he should join a sports team at the school for his sake. The main plot of the novel revolves around a man named Gene Forrester who revisits his old high school in New Hampshire and thinks about how little it has changed and how much he has changed.
Finny often assumes that everyone thinks like he does and insists that he and Gene go along with whatever he wishes to do. He concludes that everyone, at some point in their lives, finds themselves pitted against something that is hostile to them.
Thus, he feels disconcerted at how new and varnished the school looks, as if it had been frozen in time since the days when he attended.
Gene does not contest this rule although he hates it and still fears the jump.
Gene and Finny become increasingly inseparable and codependent after this and it becomes evident that Gene is not only attempting to equalize himself with Finny but perhaps trying to blur the lines between them until they are one personality.
Lauderdale, Florida at the age of Instead of going to their first class of the day, the boys decide to cut so that Finny can see if anything on the campus has changed while he was away.
Gene goes to Vermont and finds that Leper has gone slightly mad. There, Gene attempts to avoid true athletic activity by becoming assistant manager of the crew team, but he feuds with the crew manager and quits.
As he ponders the plunge, Finny orders him to jump. This is why the army decided to declare him insane. Gene is upset and tells Finny that he is sorry before leaving.
When they go to jump from the tree once again, Gene turns to make a sarcastic remark to Finny and loses his balance. The flashback that begins midway through this first chapter and lasts throughout the entire novel creates an odd effect: This relief lasts through the night but the next morning it is gone and Gene is left with the guilt of what he caused to happen to his friend, whether it was intentional or not.
Gene and Finny go on training, shielded within their private vision of world events. Soon, another student begins to suspect Gene of lying about what happened the night Finny was hurt and organizes an informal tribunal of students to try and ascertain what really happened.
Finny prods Gene into making a dangerous jump out of a tree into a river, and the two start a secret society based on this ritual. Gene tells the other boys that Leper has changed and that he has deserted the army.
He further shocks them by deserting the war shortly after. When Gene asks why the conspiracy has not been discovered by others Finny says that only he can see it because of the amount of suffering he has gone through.
Late in the novel, Leper goes insane from the stress of his enlistment in the army. Finny admits that he has been writing to military branches all through the winter begging them to let him enlist and over look his injury but that all of them have rejected him.“What I mean is, I love winter, and when you really love something, then it loves you back, in whatever way it has to love.” ― John Knowles, A Separate Peace.
The boys establish to a sort of peace between them. Then, during surgery, Finny dies. The remaining chapter or two is devoted to the older Gene's musings on peace, war, and enemies. Summary of A Separate Peace by John Knowles As the novel opens, Gene Forrester returns to Devon, the New Hampshire boarding school he attended during World War II.
Gene has not seen Devon for 15 years, and so he notices the ways in which the school has changed since he was a student there. A Separate Peace Summary.
The novel begins with Gene Forrester visiting his high school, the Devon School, in a small town in New Hampshire 15 years after his graduation.
He has come to visit two specific sites: the marble stairs in the First Academy Building, and the tree that juts out over the Devon River. Plot summary 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": a flight of marble stairs and a tree by the river that he caused his friend, Phineas, to fall out of.
“A Separate Peace” is a coming-of-age novel published in and written by John Knowles. The novel is Knowles first and best-known published work.