Uploaded by yrbkgal on Jun 03, 2001
A Separate Peace by John Knowles recounts the friendship between two friends, Gene and Finny, during the year before they turn 18 and join World War II. It begins fifteen years in the future with Gene returning to his Alma Mata and remembering the drama and growth of his last year at Devon. Gene was rather naive and shy, concerned more with his academics. Gene was also very doubting and insecure about his own abilities. Phineas, or Finny was confident, the athlete and ringleader. Liked by all, he always had a crazy plan brewing in his mind. Daring and brave, his entire objective was to enjoy life. Finny persuades Gene to be bolder and more spontaneous, yet when Finny was not around Gene lost that sense of poise and self-assurance. Consequently, this created opposition within Gene’s mind. Gene both admired and envied Finny. Gene detested Finny’s constant and sanguine attitude toward life because it epitomized a serenity that he could never achieve because of his own insecurity.
Phineas had this mindset that permitted him to see life from a different point of view.
“The Devon faculty had never experienced a student who combined a calm ignorance of the rules and a winning urge to be good, who seemed to love the school truly and deeply, and never more then when he was breaking the regulations, a model student who was most comfortable in the truant’s corner (Knowles, 16)”.
He had a charisma and a persona that mesmerized the student body as well as the staff. No one ever knew what he was going to do next or the reason he would give and that was exactly the way Finny liked it. The incident when he wore the pink shirt and explained his motive demonstrates not only that Finny was unpredictable but also shows his influence among the school community. He viewed the shirt as his emblem, his way of celebrating the fact that the Allies had just bombed Central Europe. Gene summarizes Finny’s amount of sway best when he states, “No one else could have done so with out some risk of having it torn from his back (Knowles, 18)”.
Even when faced with stark realities, Phineas concocted some fantastic story to feed his disbelief in unsettling events. The most blatantly dismal thread occurring in the book was the War, in which Finny believes that it is a sham made up by some...