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A Separate Peace, Notes by Cary M. Roberts

By Cary M. Roberts

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Additional resources for A Separate Peace, Notes

Sample text

Consequently, even early in this first chapter, Gene seems to realize that Finny is getting "some kind of hold over" him. This hold Finny has on Gene will become the central conflict of the novel and will influence many of Gene's actions. He will fluctuate between extreme like and dislike of his position. Page 13 The central dramatic episode of the first chapter is the jump from the tree. It is superfluous here to attempt to give all the symbolism connected with the tree itself. It is enough to say that the jump from the tree becomes a means of rejecting a certain aspect of his past life.

The book, being about adolescents, deals with the knowns and the unknowns of the world. The world of the child and the adolescent can be seen to be one of unknown expectation. However, that world has changed because of the war, and the adolescent is no longer in the innocent world. The war has brought an end to that innocence. Gene is the example of this, since he has been leading a life of regularity and conformity. Thus, when he jumps from the tree, it is as though Gene is returning to the world of the unknown; he is entering, or trying to enter, into Finny's world.

In spite of this insight, however, Gene continues to jump every night, though he hates it. " It may be assumed that Gene's fear of the jump and the resentment over having to keep face with Phineas contribute to the motivation for Gene's eventual betrayal of Finny. Gene, however, is beginning to understand Finny better. He sees that "Finny's life was ruled by inspiration and anarchy" and that Finny prizes his own set of rules. Consequently, the destructive Super Suicide Page 20 Society has to meet every night.

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