In "A Separate Peace" what does Finny admit he has been doing all winter?
What has been the result? Analyze Finny's behavior.
The passage that you are looking for is a couple pages from the end of chapter 12. Finny admits, for the
first time, that has desparately wanted to be a part of the war. He had been submitting his application to
every single branch of the military, hoping that they would accept him into the war to fight.
Unfortunately, because of his leg, he was rejected everywhere. He states, "I'll hate it everywhere if I'm
not in this war!" Then, he explains why he had been coming up with the entire "there is no war" scenario
that he had been touting all winter. It was because if he couldn't be in the war, then there just simply
couldn't be a war. It was a form of denial for him; the truth that he couldn't be accepted into the military
because of his leg was just too harsh to deal with, so he invented an alternate reality that helped him to
cope with it. He said that
"two seconds after I got a letter.
..saying 'Yeus, you can inlist with us'"
he would have finally dropped the pretense and admitted that there was a war. This denial is a
characteristic of Finny's; when Gene tries to tell him about what happened at the tree, Finny denies that
too, and instead comes up with more acceptable versions of what had happened, that suit his world better
than the harsh reality that his friend could have done that to him. Finny shows a tendency to side-step any
truth that is hard to deal with; he does this with the war, and with the truth of what Gene did to him. His
nature is to focus on the positive side of life, and of human nature.
Finny does not survive the surgery process to repair his leg (after his fall down the stairs). From the
doctor's description, Finny's condition appears to be a blood clot that travels from his broken leg to his
heart. This is not an uncommon condition, even with today's medical technology, for patients who suffer
leg and foot injuries.
What is ironic is that Gene is told that part of Finny's bone marrow separates from his bone and stops his
heart. The irony lies in the cliche about the marrow of life--made famous by Thoreau. It is almost as if
Finny has so much "life" inside him that it overflows and takes away his earthly life. The author seems to
imply that Finny was not made for this world. He is an idyllic character.
A Separate Peace
, to what extent is Gene indeed "Phineas-filled," possessed of simplicity, harmony,
and unity of character?
One of the novel's complexities is its shifting point of view. Sometimes we are listening to Gene the
seventeen-year-old Devon student; sometimes we hear the narrative and interpretation of events from
Gene as the thirty-two-year-old who returns to Devon. The novel's flashback structure suggests that
Gene's personal growth and insight did not end when he left school; for whatever reason, he was still
dealing with the events that had occurred at Devon and felt compelled to return to the campus one dreary