A Separate Peace

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Gene Forrester Character Analysis

The novel's narrator and protagonist. At the novel's opening he is a man in his thirties looking back at his days as a student at private prep academy called the Devon School. As a student, he was extremely intelligent, vying for valedictorian. He was also sensitive and immensely competitive, especially with his roommate and best friend Finny, whom he meets during the summer session after junior year at Devon. In fact, Gene's relationship with Finny can best be described as love-hate. At times Gene so adores and admires his friend that he actually wants to be him, and goes so far as to dress up in Finny's clothes. At other times, Gene feels incredible resentment at Finny's athletic or social accomplishments, and imagines that Finny feels similarly competitive and is trying to sabotage Gene's academic success. At the end of the summer, this resentment builds to such a degree that Gene, either consciously or unconsciously, causes Finny to fall out of a tree and break his leg, destroying his athletic career. A Separate Peace reads like a long diary entry in which Gene tries to sort out what happened between him and Finny that summer at Devon and what has happened to him emotionally ever since. It's never clear how successful Gene is in this effort, and he should be considered an unreliable narrator.

Gene Forrester Quotes in A Separate Peace

The A Separate Peace quotes below are all either spoken by Gene Forrester or refer to Gene Forrester. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of A Separate Peace published in 2003.
Chapter 1 Quotes
"This was the tree, and it seemed to me standing there to resemble those men, the giants of your childhood, whom you encounter years later and find that they are not merely smaller in relation to your growth, but that they are absolutey smaller, shrunken by age....[for] the old giants have become pigmies while you were looking the other way."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Tree
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

As Gene Forrester explores his alma mater, the prestigious prep school Devon, he returns to a tree by the river. We do not yet know the significance of this tree, but the nostalgia that colors Gene's encounter with it alludes to its thematic importance in the novel. The tree, as Gene explicitly describes, serves as a symbol of "the giants of your childhood" -- the individuals that one views with unbridled admiration during your adolescence. Now, the tree seems physically smaller to Gene because it itself has shriveled, Gene has grown, and Gene's perspective has changed. Viewing this tree causes then Gene to become further "changed"; it provides him with an opportunity to reflect on this novel's themes -- finding an identity in relation to others, transforming as you are growing -- and begin the novel from a perspective of wisdom and introspection.

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"Nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not even a death by violence. Changed, I headed back through the mud. I was drenched; anybody could see it was time to come in out of the rain."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Tree
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

The shrunken tree reminds Gene of the scenery after a battlefield, the scenery which becomes colored with "death by violence." These descriptions and observations -- of a "drenched" Gene moving "back through the mud," of the fact that "nothing endures" -- evoke martial imagery and the despair of war. Gene is very briefly described like a soldier, and this alludes to the central importance of World War II in the novel. In this moment, Gene recognizes that he needs to "come in out of the rain," and this physical movement parallels the internal transformations of coming to greater knowledge and perspective that will occur during the novel.

Chapter 2 Quotes
"I think we reminded them of what peace was like, we boys of sixteen....We were careless and wild, and I suppose we could be thought of as a sign of the life the war was being fought to preserve....Phineas was the essence of this careless peace."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny")
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

At the beginning of the novel's flashback, Gene and his best friend Phineas are sixteen-year-old students at Dover, who are busy engaging in reckless, spontaneous activities during their school's Summer Session -- all at Phineas' urging. Phineas, with his spontaneous attitudes, easy charm, and impressive athletic abilities, leads the other students in endeavors that often just cross the line and are not allowed or inappropriate. Although Phineas should be reprimanded, according to the prep school's regulations, faculty are more than likely to let one of Phineas's endeavors go unpunished, especially when Phineas provides a charismatic reason for his venture. From his mature perspective, Gene the narrator understands that the faculty allowed such behavior because it symbolized the less complicated, freer times before World War II broke out. Gene no longer views Phineas with such envy; instead of becoming subconsciously irritated that Phineas is allowed to break every rule, the elder, narrator-Gene now more sympathetically understands the broader social issues that inspire the faculty to such lenience. The contrast between sixteen-year-old Gene and the narrator suggests that Gene's envy and sense of rivalry might intensify as such favor continues.

Chapter 3 Quotes
"To keep silent about this amazing happening deepened the shock for me. It made Finny seem too unusual for—not friendship, but too unusual for rivalry. And there were few relationships among us at Devon not based on rivalry."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny")
Related Symbols: The Devon School
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

Phineas -- who was known as Finny to his friend Gene -- breaks a school record for 100 Yards Free Style (without practicing for this endeavor) while only Gene is watching him swim in the pool. Yet, Phineas does not want to add to his impressive list of athletic prizes by repeating this feat with a more public audience. He asks Gene to keep it "just between you and me," inspiring Gene to wonder about his friend's motives. Gene considers that Phineas might want to impress him, or that Phineas might simply be above rivalry. For an individual as competitive as sixteen-year-old Gene (and all his competitive, jealous peers at the Devon School), this must be a frustrating possibility. Phineas was not only one of the best students, but he seemed to live in a wholly separate existence above all of his peers. 

Chapter 4 Quotes
"I found a single sustaining thought. The thought was, You and Phineas are even already. You are even in enmity. You are both coldly driving ahead for yourselves alone....I felt better. We were even after all, even in enmity. The deadly rivalry was on both sides after all."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny")
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

After Phineas beats the school record in the 100 Yard Free Style, he takes Gene to the beach and they stay there overnight. Gene barely arrives back at school in time for his Trigonometry test in the morning, which becomes the first test which he flunks.

After this occurs, Gene believes he understands the motivation behind Phineas advocating such reckless activities all summer: Phineas is (supposedly) attempting to sabotage Gene's academic achievement at Devon. Gene takes this rationale as evidence for Phineas's competitiveness, and convinces himself that Phineas is just as competitive as Gene is. Therefore, Phineas and Gene are "even in enmity"; Phineas is just as morally questionable as Gene is. Although Gene is here stating that he and Phineas are equal, this thought underscores Gene's competitive spirit; he does not want to recognize the way that Phineas is morally superior to him and above his competitive, jealous perspective.

"He had never been jealous of me for a second. Now I knew that there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us. I was not of the same quality as he."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny")
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
After Phineas announces that another student, Leper, will leap down the tree tonight, in order to join their club of reckless behavior (which Phineas dubbed the "Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session"), Gene finally tells Phineas that he does not wish to attend. After withholding his resentment and anger for so long, Gene angrily tells Phineas that he will "ruin my grade" if he goes tonight instead of studying. Phineas is "interested, surprised"; he had no idea that Gene felt that such endeavors would sacrifice his grades. So, Gene's theory (that Phineas invented such careless exploits in order to prevent Gene from studying) was completely false, and Gene must once again face the reality that Phineas seems oddly innocent and free from the jealousy that tortures Gene.
"Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud. It was the first clumsy physical action I had ever seen him make. With unthinking sureness I moved out on the limb and jumped into the river, every trace of my fear of this forgotten."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny")
Related Symbols: Fall (Autumn) and Finny's Fall
Page Number: 59-60
Explanation and Analysis:

These small, seemingly insignificant physical movements -- bending a knee, swinging a head -- constitute the climax and narrative core of the entire novel. Thy do not conclusively establish Gene's guilt, but they certainly allow us to see why Gene might be guilty: his knees bent, but it was Gene himself ("I") who  actually "jounced" the limb, causing Phineas to look at his best friend with "extreme interest" before a sickening fall. Phineas here makes the "first clumsy physical action" that Gene sees him make, reminding us of the way that Phineas's night beach adventure made Gene fail his first exam. It is noticeable that once Phineas falls, Gene finally jumps from the tree limb without fear; he almost seems to replace Phineas with this athletic action and new carefree attitude -- free from jealousy, that is. This already suggests that the idealized character of Phineas which has so affected the novel thus far, and brought the entire community at Devon under his charm, is already gone.

Chapter 6 Quotes
"Across the hall...where Leper Lepellier had dreamed his way through July and August amid sunshine and dust motes and windows through which the ivy had reached tentatively into the room, here Brinker Hadley had established his headquarters. Emissaries were already dropping in to confer with him."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Brinker Hadley, Elwin "Leper" Lepellier
Related Symbols: Fall (Autumn) and Finny's Fall, The Devon School
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Now that Devon's first Summer Session has ended and fall has arrived (along with Phineas's own "fall"), the school which had been largely "leaderless" (and thus open to Phineas's whims, because the few faculty members who remained over the summer were lenient to him and students followed his example) has returned to its typical, hierarchical order. Students such as Brinker Hadley return to their usual positions of power, which Gene analogizes to martial positions of command. Here, Phineas is gone, and the carefree atmosphere which he fostered has left with him, replaced by the realities of growing up and the looming threat of World War II.

"'Listen, pal, if I can't play sports, you're going to play them for me,' and I lost part of myself to him then, and a soaring sense of freedom revealed that this must have been my purpose from the first: to become a part of Phineas.
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny") (speaker)
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

After Phineas's fall, he still considers Gene a "pal," and his enduring absence of rivalry and jealousy is revealed when Phineas encourages Gene to play sports "for him." With these words, Phineas almost seems to advocate that Gene should take his place -- a sentiment that Gene latches onto as well. Of course, the bookish, less-athletic Gene cannot truly act in Phineas's stead. He can, however, feel that same "soaring sense of freedom" that threaded all of Phineas's actions. Gene takes some comfort in the thought that his "purpose" was to replace Phineas, subsuming his own identity into that of the friend he so loves and hates. Throughout the novel, Gene questions his own motivations during the fateful tree scene. Did Gene intend to have such a malicious consequence of his actions, or was his behavior accidental? These are the sorts of possibilities soldiers on the spontaneous, frenetic environment of the battlefield encounter as well -- where a single movement or a single confused second can have life-changing consequences.

Chapter 7 Quotes
"In the same way the war, beginning almost humorously with announcements about [no more] maids and days spent at apple-picking, commenced its invasion of the school."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Devon School
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
With this description of the way that World War II presented itself at Devon, Gene alludes to the emotional complications that pervade the novel. Close friendships are rife with guilt and malicious intentions; violent wars are painted over by humor. Although schoolboys should be interacting with playful, easy friendships, at Devon the intrinsic rivalry seems to make the sentiments of war exist at home. Likewise, the separation between New England and the battlefields of World War II allows the war to become a mere diversion from the violence between the school boys, an "invasion" which lacks the emotional connotations that an invasion, particularly one associated with such violence, should by definition have.
"To enlist. To slam the door impulsively on the past, to shed everything down to my last bit of clothing, to break the pattern of my life....The war would be deadly all right. But I was used to finding something deadly in things that attracted me."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker)
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

As the protagonist of a novel so embittered by the struggles of identity -- the uncertainties of separating your actions from your intention, the difficulties of remaining a cohesive character while you are growing and realizing your intrinsic flaws and competitive spirit -- Gene finds the anonymity of the soldier to be an alluring prospect. Yet he also finds the danger of the martial life to be appealing, and he reflects that this is nothing unusual for his character -- he reacts to war in the same way that he reacts to everything else, particularly his relationship to Phineas. This indicates that war, like other competitive places such as a prep school, is a phenomenon which reveals one's inner character. 

Chapter 8 Quotes
"So the war swept over like a wave at the seashore, gathering power and size as it bore on us, overwhelming in its rush, seemingly inescapable, and then at the last moment eluded by a word from Phineas; I had simply ducked, that was all, and the wave's concentrated power had hurtled harmlessly overhead."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny")
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

Gene has just had an invigorating day, shoveling snow off the railroads along with other classmates and viewing a train of men dressed for war pass by thanks to his work. Inspired by his classmate Brinker's passion for enlisting, and the night sky which is pulsing overhead with possibilities, Gene decides to enlist, to spontaneously join the communal war effort and remake his life. Yet, when he returns, he finds Phineas -- the constant reminder of his prior transgressions and confused identity -- in his bedroom. Phineas is dazed and surprised, and he clearly hopes that Gene will not enlist and leave him. So because of Phineas, Gene's quixotic, momentary dream of becoming a soldier and leaving his life as a student behind becomes an impossibility. The powerful possibilities of enlisting pass Gene by in an unsettling way, though he also realizes that the war cannot be avoided forever.

Chapter 9 Quotes
"It wasn't the cider which made me surpass myself, it was this liberation we had torn from the gray encroachments of 1943, the escape we had concocted, this afternoon of momentary, illusory, special and separate peace."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny"), Brinker Hadley, Brownie Perkins
Page Number: 136-137
Explanation and Analysis:

During one Saturday afternoon, which is typically the most lonesome time at a boys' school such as Dover, according to Gene, Gene and his classmates hold a winter carnival (inspired by Phineas, whose stream of ideas has been slower of late). Stimulated by cider, a general awareness that they may be breaking school rules, and the fact that they are definitely creating a fictitious celebration, they engage in revelry, making a sort of "momentary, illusory, special and separate peace." We know that this peace specifically contrasts with the harsh reality of World War II, because this carnival ends when Gene receives a letter from Leper, who was the first boy at Devon to enlist in the war. Leper's tense, terse note begs Gene to visit him at his "Christmas location" (without giving a genuine address or a genuine reason), returning the narrative to the cold realism of the winter of 1943.

Chapter 10 Quotes
"Fear seized my stomach like a cramp. I didn't care what I said to him now; it was myself I was worried about. For if Leper was psycho it was the army which had done it to him, and I and all of us were on the brink of the army."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Elwin "Leper" Lepellier
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

Gene visits Leper as he had requested in his note, but he does not necessarily respond to Leper's condition with the sympathy we would expect in a friend as visitor. Rather, to Gene, Leper's plight is a larger commentary on societal forces beyond one's control. For Gene, Leper's internal, individual pain is not the concern. Instead, he is more troubled by the amorphous entity of War that has the power to have made Leper so disturbed. Leper's plight makes Gene fear how the war will affect him and his friends, rather than make him feel any special sympathy for Leper as an individual product of the war.

Chapter 12 Quotes
"'You'd get things so scrambled up nobody would know who to fight any more. You'd make a mess, a terrible mess, Finny, out of the war.'"
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny")
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

As the boys hold a makeshift court session to investigate the cause of Phineas's fall from the tree, Phineas grows agitated and storms out, down the hall and falling down the marble stairs, from where all of the boys involved in the meeting can hear his accident. When Gene visits Phineas afterwards, Phineas says he cannot mentally take being an invalid while there's a war on -- living in "separate peace" because he cannot serve his country. Gene, however, rightly tells Phineas that he would "make a mess out of the war": because of his inherent goodness, Phineas would likely engage in behaviors as nonsensical as befriending the enemy.

With this characterization, Gene implies that school boys who engage in petty rivalries would be good at the war, used to feelings of guilt and skilled at the task of ruining others' lives. It's boys like Phineas (or, in another sense, Leper), who exist apart from petty jealousy and competition, who would be destroyed by the war and make a "terrible mess" of things.

"I could not escape a feeling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker)
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

Phineas dies from a bit of bone marrow making its way to his heart during the surgery to reset his broken bone. Upon learning of the tragedy, Gene does not cry for his friend. Gene does not even cry at Phineas's funeral -- especially because he feels as if this funeral is his own.

Gene might still feel as if he is replacing Phineas, or has lost himself in Phineas's identity -- a possibility which provided him with some comfort earlier in the novel -- but it is more likely that this emotion actually stems from Gene's more negative feelings -- his guilt, his self-understanding, his internal emptiness. Gene does not entirely describe the reasons for his lack of tears, which further suggests that he is a broken individual, whose faults are painful to recognize, even to himself.

Chapter 13 Quotes
"I never killed anybody and I never developed an intense level of hatred for the enemy. Because my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there. Only Phineas never was afraid, only Phineas never hated anyone."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny")
Related Symbols: The Devon School
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

As the novel comes to a close, Gene cements the way this narrative connects petty schoolboy jealousies with the antagonisms of war: it treats them as the same phenomenon, the same manifestation of intrinsic human failings. Soldiers who have their fear and hatred translated into death and destruction are merely schoolboys who have become a few years older, and have been given deadlier weapons and a vague cause to kill and die for. Gene also finally defines Phineas here, after he has refused to define his friendship throughout the novel (most noticeably when Phineas calls him his "best pal" by the beach). Phineas was the "enemy" to Gene -- as other soldiers are the "enemy" at war. Phineas is the only being truly separate from intrinsic human selfishness -- a selfishness Gene attributes to himself and all others.

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Gene Forrester Character Timeline in A Separate Peace

The timeline below shows where the character Gene Forrester appears in A Separate Peace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Gene Forrester, a man in his mid thirties, describes his return visit to the private prep... (full context)
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As Gene looks around the building, he observes that it looks almost exactly the same as it... (full context)
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Gene's next important stop is a tree by a river. The tree still has a branch... (full context)
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The story shifts to the distant past, with Gene recalling the Devon summer session of 1942, when he was sixteen and World War II... (full context)
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Gene stands near a giant tree by a river with his best friend, Phineas ("Finny"), and... (full context)
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Finny climbs the tree and jumps. Gene is next. He climbs the tree. Though he's terrified, thinks jumping is stupid, and wonders... (full context)
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As the five boys walk back to dinner, Finny says that Gene did well after being "shamed" into it, and then makes fun of Gene for being... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Mr. Prud'homme, a substitute teacher at Devon for the summer, shows up at Finny and Gene's room the next morning to punish them for missing dinner. Finny tells him about their... (full context)
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Gene describes Finny as a unique boy, who somehow was good and kind and also a... (full context)
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Finny and Gene go to a tea party given by Mr. Patch-Withers, the Devon summer substitute Headmaster. Mr.... (full context)
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After the party, Finny and Gene head to the river. On they way they discuss the war in Europe, which feels... (full context)
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Gene and Finny climb the tree. Gene delays for a second, and almost loses his balance.... (full context)
Chapter 3
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As he thinks about Finny saving him in the tree, it occurs to Gene that it was Finny's fault he was in the tree in the first place. He... (full context)
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Finny and Gene ask six friends to join their society. Finny proclaims that every one of their nightly... (full context)
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As narrator, Gene says that every person has a moment in history that defines, or even freezes, his... (full context)
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One day, Finny and Gene go swimming in the Devon pool. Finny decides he wants to break the school record,... (full context)
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...bike ride of a few hours. Though the trip breaks school rules and therefore makes Gene nervous, he agrees to go. (full context)
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At the beach, Finny and Gene play in the waves. But after a big wave overpowers him, Gene returns to the... (full context)
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As they settle down to sleep among the dunes, Finny tells Gene that he is his "best pal." Gene begins to agree, but can't bring himself to... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Back at school after the night at the beach, Gene flunks his trigonometry test. Later that night, Finny tells Gene that he works too hard... (full context)
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Gene now senses that he and Finny are equal in their hatred of each other's successes:... (full context)
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Gene intensifies his studying, and soon passes Chet Douglass as the best student in the school,... (full context)
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Gene also mentions his trip to the beach with Finny to Mr. Prud'homme, and is surprised... (full context)
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Then, one night as Gene is studying, Finny barges in to announce that Leper Lepellier has agreed to jump from... (full context)
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Gene is in shock. As he and Finny walk over to watch Leper jump, Gene realizes... (full context)
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At the tree, Finny proposes they start with a simultaneous jump. Gene and Finny climb the tree, but while on the branch Gene's knees bend. The branch... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...leg. No one is allowed to visit him in the infirmary. Though no one suspects Gene did anything wrong, he questions whether he purposely made Finny fall. To make himself feel... (full context)
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That morning, Gene runs into Dr. Stanpole, the school physician. He says Finny is improving, but that he'll... (full context)
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As he goes to the infirmary, Gene thinks Finny wants to accuse him of causing his fall. In the infirmary, Finny is... (full context)
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Gene asks Finny what he remembers. Finny says he lost his balance and tried to reach... (full context)
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Gene asks what made Finny lose his balance. Finny then says he suspects he didn't lose... (full context)
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Gene realizes that his earlier thoughts about their rivalry were "ludicrous," and realizes that, if he... (full context)
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On his return trip to Devon for the fall semester, Gene stops at Finny's house. Finny is propped on pillows, a shadow of the athlete that... (full context)
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After some small talk, Gene tells Finny that he was responsible for Finny falling from the tree. Finny refuses to... (full context)
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Finny asks Gene if he's going to start playing by the rules now. Gene says he won't play... (full context)
Chapter 6
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At the first chapel service of the year, Gene observes that though the campus looks the same, the calm ease of the summer session... (full context)
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Gene decides that breaking rules means being broken by them in the end. He thinks of... (full context)
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Gene lives in the same room he shared with Finny, but Finny's place has not been... (full context)
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That afternoon, Gene walks to Devon's Crew House to report for his job as assistant senior crew manager.... (full context)
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At the boathouse, Gene meets Cliff Quackenbush, the crew manager, who most students at Devon dislike. After practice, Quackenbush... (full context)
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On the walk back to his dorm, Gene runs into Mr. Ludsbury, the man in charge of his dormitory. Mr. Ludsbury scolds Gene... (full context)
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Mr. Ludsbury then tells Gene he got a phone call. Gene calls back. It's Finny, who's relieved that no one... (full context)
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But Finny can't understand why Gene would want to be a crew team manager. Gene silently comments that he wants to... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Back at his room, Gene is visited by Brinker. Brinker admires Gene's room, and jokes that Gene purposely injured Finny... (full context)
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...they go to smoke, Brinker continues to joke in front of the other smoking students. Gene now plays along, confessing to the crime, but stops in the middle of describing how... (full context)
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Fall turns into winter and the first snow blankets Devon. Gene observes that the war has also begun to take over the school: he and other... (full context)
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...the way to help shovel the snow-covered railroad tracks along which troop transport trains ride, Gene meets Leper. Leper is on skis and is "touring" the area looking for a beaver... (full context)
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Brinker then tells Gene he wants to enlist in the armed forces tomorrow. Gene considers enlisting himself. Once he... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Finny immediately mocks Gene's shoveling work clothes, and complains that the school no longer has maids. Gene's explanation that... (full context)
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The next morning, Brinker enters. When he sees Finny, he starts to joke about Gene offing Finny to get the room, but Gene quickly changes the subject to their imminent... (full context)
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As Finny and Gene walk around the wintry Devon campus, Finny says that winter must love him, since he... (full context)
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...and go see the gym. Walking to the gym makes Finny out of breath, and Gene realizes the toll that Finny's injury truly has taken on him. (full context)
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In the locker room, Finny again asks Gene what sports he's gone out for. Gene says none because sports seem trivial during wartime.... (full context)
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Gene asks what makes Finny "so special" that he can see this conspiracy while everyone else... (full context)
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Gene breaks the awkward silence that follows Finny's outburst by doing chin-ups. Finny encourages him to... (full context)
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Over the following months, Gene tutors Finny in academic subjects and Finny helps Gene become a stronger runner. (full context)
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One day while training Gene feels stronger and freer than before. (full context)
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...Finny responds: "No." The reply startles Mr. Ludsbury, who walks away muttering. Finny comments to Gene that Ludsbury must be too thin to be let in on the old fat men's... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Through his training and friendship with Finny, Gene has a newfound inner peace, though he comments as the narrator that this sense of... (full context)
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...every allied victory. Finny, though, refuses to take part in these jokes, and slowly pulls Gene into spending all of his time training for the Olympics. (full context)
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One bleak winter Saturday, Finny proposes the boys hold "The Devon Winter Carnival." With Gene, he assembles a crew of collaborators, including Brinker and his roommate Brownie Perkins. They drink... (full context)
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But as the carnival is going on, Brownie brings Gene a telegram. It's from Leper, who says he's escaped from the military and needs Gene... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Leper's "Christmas location" turns out to mean his home in Vermont. Gene takes a train there. Gene comments that this late-night train trip was the first of... (full context)
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Gene hopes that when Leper said in his letter that he had escaped he meant that... (full context)
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Leper then starts claiming that "they" have brainwashed Gene. When Gene resists this idea, Leper says that he always knew but now can admit... (full context)
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Leper's mother rushes in to investigate the noise. Gene tries to excuse himself, but Leper invites him to lunch and Gene stays out of... (full context)
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During the walk, Gene comments that Brinker has changed a great deal, becoming much less cruel. Leper responds that... (full context)
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Gene begs Leper to stop talking, but Leper either won't or can't. Soon Gene can't bear... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Back at Devon, Gene finds Finny in the middle of a snowball fight with a bunch of other students.... (full context)
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Gene returns to his room and takes down some photos he had pasted up that were... (full context)
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Finny and Gene are back in their room when Brinker comes in and asks about Leper. Gene is... (full context)
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At Gene's prodding, Finny says once again that there isn't really a war, but this time he... (full context)
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As time passes, most of the boys other than Gene enlist. One morning, Brinker suggests that Gene is delaying enlisting because he feels pity for... (full context)
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Back in the dorm, as Gene does Finny's Latin homework, Finny says he began to believe in the war once he... (full context)
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Later that night, Brinker and three boys arrive at Gene and Finny's room. They all go to the Assembly Room, a large auditorium, in Devon's... (full context)
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They question Finny, who says he just lost his balance and fell, and that Gene was at the bottom of the tree. Gene agrees with the story, but then Finny... (full context)
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The boys get Leper. Leper calmly says that Gene and Finny were on the branch together when Finny fell. He says the two moved... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...as boys get teachers and Dr. Stanpole to come to Finny's aid. Dr. Stanpole tells Gene that he thinks it's a simpler fracture that last time, and has Finny carried away... (full context)
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Gene sneaks to the infirmary and hides outside and imagines all the funny things Finny must... (full context)
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When it's dark and the doctors have left, Gene crawls up to the window and opens. Finny furiously accuses Gene of coming to try... (full context)
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Gene aimlessly wanders the campus, like a "roaming ghost." He feels as if he no longer... (full context)
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...The reason he denied the war existed was because he felt left out of it. Gene responds that Finny would have been a terrible soldier. He would have made everyone friends. (full context)
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Finny starts crying, and says that Gene must not have known what he was doing when he shook the branch. Gene says... (full context)
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When Gene returns to the infirmary, he is shocked to numbness when Dr. Stanpole tells him that... (full context)
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Gene never cries about Finny's death, not even at his funeral, because he feels as if... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Gene and his friends graduate, and the school lets the military use part of its campus... (full context)
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As the soldiers drive in, Brinker brings Gene to meet his father, who can barely hide his disdain for Gene and Brinker's plans... (full context)
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Gene then goes to empty his locker. The locker room has been occupied by some of... (full context)
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Gene says all the hatred he felt disappeared with Finny's death. He says only Finny was... (full context)