Gene Forrester, the narrator of the story, visited his previous school where he studied 15 years ago during the World War II. He wandered around the Devon school in New Hampshire and noticed that everything there seems to be coated with varnish and is well preserved. As he walks through the places in the school, he remembered the memories from his childhood, and he was reminded of how fearful they were. Then there, he decided to visit the places which he most closely associates with fear. The first one is the marble staircase which shows little sign of wear over the years.
While there he remembers the incident that changed his life. In the summer of 1942, Gene and his friends stayed at their prep school for the summer session. His best friend in those days was a boy named Phineas, or Finny. During that time World War II was going on and the sixteen-year old boys were trying to preserve the peace in their lives, before they would be old enough to be drafted into the war-just one year later. One day Finny, the best athlete in the school, came up with the crazy idea to jump out of a tree into a river.
He is attending a special Summer Session at Devon, designed to speed up education to prepare the boys for the military draft in their senior year. Gene stands at the same tree with his best friend and roommate, Phineas (nicknamed Finny), and three other boys, Elwin Lepellier (Leper), Chet Douglass, and Bobby Zane. The tree seems enormous to Gene, but Finny suddenly decides to climb it and jump into the river, just like the Devon 17 year olds, who are training for military service. Finny jumps and dares Gene to follow. Against his better judgment, Gene climbs the tree and also jumps, but the three others refuse.
I was damned if I’d climb it. The hell with it. No one but Phineas could think of such a crazy idea. He of course saw nothing the slightest bit intimidating about it.” (Knowles, 14) The older, seventeen year old boys jump out of this tree in training for World War II that looms over the characters during this story. Wanting to jump out of the tree shows the eagerness of younger boys wanting to play their part in the war, like a challenge to prove their manhood.
A Separate Peace; Chapter Summaries Chapter 1: The narrator (Gene) returns to the Devon School in New Hampshire, that he graduated from 15 years earlier. He goes to a certain tree and switches back to the past. Phineas dares everyone to jump from a branch in the tree into the river. Phineas, and Gene both jump. On the way back Phineas and Gene play fight so that they are late for dinner.
One day Gene and Finny, his friend and roommate, went to a large tree by the river. Finny suggested that they try and jump from the tree into the river below them. This jump was usually for older boys. But they both made the jump successfully, and Finny formed the Summer Suicide Society, which is dedicated to members being initiated by jumping from the tree to the river. Each time, Gene and Finny must go first, but Gene always has a fear of jumping.
He walks up to a tree and the story then begins in the summer of 1942. When Gene arrives at the school he meets a very intriguing person by the name of Phineas also known as Finny, they end up starting the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session, where they meet every night at the big tree by the river. Later, in the story Finny and Gene decide to skip school and when they get back Gene has to take a test and fails, which he blames it on Finny. Then one night at the tree Finny is on the limb of the tree that jump from into the water Gene causes the limb to move causing Finny to fall. This fall breaks his leg.
The Shawnee Tribe in Central Pennsylvania His name is Wautheeweela. It means Bright Horn, referring to horns on a deer. He is ten years old, and ready to make his journey to prove his manhood. He and other boys from his Shawnee tribe have been physically toughened and taught to be independent since an age of around six. In winters, they have had to break the ice to jump into the freezing river to continue their daily routine of learning to survive with Nature and its elements.
Two locations bear a mysterious significance to him, the first being a marble staircase inside a classroom building. The second is beneath a tree growing near the Devon River. After standing outside, time moves back fifteen years to when Gene had still been a schoolboy standing near that same tree. His friend Finny urges him to climb its branches and jump off to simulate abandoning a torpedoed ship. At the time, World War II is waging on in the outside world.
Devon as a Microcosm to the Outside World in A Separate Peace Welcome to a small school called Devon during the summer of 1942. At the beginning of the second World War, Devon is a quiet place with close friends and great memories, until one event brings the entire school into itÕs own war. With the star athlete having his leg ÒaccidentallyÓ broken by his best friend, Devon turns against itself into a war zone where nobody is safe. It all began with a childish game of jumping out of a tree into a river, a test of guts and will. All fun and games until that summer day when the star athlete is ready to jump out while his best friend follows him up the tree to jump next.