Separate Peace Plot Summary
Gene the main character returns to his boarding school, Devon, fifteen years after he graduated. First he visits a flight of marble stairs, then he visits a tree by the river which brings back memories of his time at the school. Gene continues to tell of this time, tells that he was 16 living with his good friend Phineas. It is in the early 1940’s so World War II is a big topic in the story.
Gene and Finny are close friends even though their personalities are extremely different. Gene is introverted and focuses on his school work while Finny is extroverted and focuses on sports. Gene goes through a period where he is very obsessed with Finny. Finny has an idea during the summer of 1942 to create a “Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session.” The initiation of this group is to jump into the river from a very tall tree.
Gene thinks Finny is trying to become better at school than him, this causes Gene to feel very bitter towards Finny. Anything Finny does Gene thinks is a way to cause Gene to fall behind in school. Finny and Gene are on the branch prepared to jump in the river when Gene bounces the branch causing Finny to fall and shatter his leg. The thinking of Finny trying to out-do him is ended here. Finny learns he will never again be able to play sports. Gene tries to think like Finny and become a better person. He tries to find out why he shook the branch. Finally the guilt overtakes Gene and he tells Finny that he shook to branch on purpose, Finny doesn’t believe him at first but then feels very hurt.
Brinker Hadley, another student at Devon, tries to rally the students to help the war effort. Another student named Leper who is a small fearful boy, joins the ski troops and goes c...
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...he closing scene consists of Gene overlooking and feeling even though there are soldiers that there is peace at Devon. He talks of his time in the army and how he never had an enemy because he killed his enemy at Devon. When Gene meets Brinker’s father and Brinker discusses his problems with him he realizes Brinker turned into a rebel. This ending does give closure because Gene has peace at last.
Peace isn’t always external. Gene feels peace yet he is in the midst of a World War, he feels peace because he is happy emotionally and mentally.
War can be more than external. Gene is living in a World War yet isn’t affected by it because he is fighting his own war inside of him. He struggles to come to terms with himself and his envy of Finny. This is why when Gene fights in WWII he doesn’t feel threatened because he already won his war against himself.
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