A Separate Peace

Brinker Hadley comes from a wealthy family and is obsessed with truth, order, and justice. Like Finny, Brinker is well-known on campus and widely considered a leader. But while Finny stands for the freewheeling innocence of youth, Brinker represents the reserved discipline of adulthood. For this reason, he romanticizes the idea of enlisting in the military to contribute to World War II, even convincing Gene to enlist with him one day several months after Finny’s accident. However, Finny returns that very day, and Gene decides to stay at Devon instead of joining the military. Losing steam, Brinker also decides to delay his enlistment, and this decision leads to a sense of disillusionment with the ordered, respectable life he has built. In turn, Brinker quits the many clubs and committees to which he belongs and adopts a cynical attitude about the war, reveling in the idea of breaking rules in his final year at Devon. At the same time, though, he never loses his passion for justice and discovering the truth, a fixation that leads him to suspect Gene of intentionally harming Finny. In the novel’s climactic scene, Brinker assembles a number of students to form a mock tribunal to hear Gene’s case, finally making it clear to Finny that Gene purposefully caused his fall. And though Brinker’s ability to intuit the truth about this situation makes him seem astute and mature, he makes light of the situation without recognizing the profound effect it has on Finny, who ends up falling down a set of stairs—and eventually dying due to complications from his injury—upon realizing the truth. In this regard, Brinker fails to account for the complex interpersonal dynamics surrounding Finny’s fall from the tree, proving that he isn’t quite as mature and shrewd as he’d like to think.

Brinker Hadley Quotes in A Separate Peace

The A Separate Peace quotes below are all either spoken by Brinker Hadley or refer to Brinker Hadley. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of A Separate Peace published in 2003.
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.

Page Number: 74
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Chapter 7 Quotes

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), Phineas (“Finny”), Brinker Hadley
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
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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”), Brinker Hadley
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
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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”), Brinker Hadley
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:
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Brinker Hadley Character Timeline in A Separate Peace

The timeline below shows where the character Brinker Hadley appears in A Separate Peace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
...Finny is still recovering at home. Across the hall, a popular and well-rounded student named Brinker Hadley has moved into Leper’s old room—a development that would normally please Gene but does... (full context)
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
Gene decides to visit Brinker, but stops before he enters, realizing that he doesn’t want to see how Leper’s former... (full context)
Chapter 7
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
When Gene returns to his room, Brinker Hadley pays him a visit. Brinker, a gregarious and likable young man, admires Gene’s room... (full context)
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
Once in the Butt Room, Brinker continues to joke about Gene’s cunning plan. In front of the other smoking students, Gene... (full context)
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
...the youngest boy in the room, who has been boisterously playing along as part of Brinker’s mock courtroom. “What did I do then?” he asks, inviting the boy to fill in... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
...Quackenbush says that he’s going to finish his studies before entering the military. Hearing this, Brinker and the others make fun of him, calling him a spy for the enemy. Then,... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
After listening to Leper, Brinker laments the fact that he’s forced to go to a “school for photographers of beaver... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
The next morning, Brinker bounds into the room and is about to ask Gene if he’s ready to enlist... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
As Gene and Brinker awkwardly try to explain to Finny that they were thinking of enlisting, Finny declares that... (full context)
Chapter 9
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
...gone. He is the first boy to enlist, despite the boisterous claims that people like Brinker have made in the past about joining the military. After he leaves, Brinker and the... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
...should hold “The Devon Winter Carnival.” With Gene, he assembles a crew of collaborators, including Brinker and his mild-mannered roommate, Brownie Perkins. Brinker steals hard cider from some underclassmen and tells... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
...the prizes are laid out on tables, and Finny sets to work appraising them. When Brinker asks what should happen next, Finny looks at him for a moment and then declares... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
...lunch. After eating, the two boys go for a walk, and Gene tells Leper that Brinker has changed a great deal, becoming much less cruel. Leper responds that Brinker will always... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
After dinner, Brinker visits Gene and Finny’s room and asks about Leper. Gene is vague, not wanting to... (full context)
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Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
...it. At the same time, though, he doesn’t quite know why he’s putting off enlisting. Brinker, for his part, hatches multiple plans to join various branches of the military, each one... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
One morning, Brinker approaches Gene and steers him into a private room, where he accuses him of putting... (full context)
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Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
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Gene heads back to the dorm in a fit of worry, concerned about what Brinker might do or say. As he goes up the stairs, he encounters Finny, who has... (full context)
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Late that night, Brinker and three others burst into Gene and Finny’s room. Not saying where they’re going, they... (full context)
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Gene interjects, but Brinker pushes on, saying that it will be good to get everything “out into the open”... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
...get things mixed up, saying that he can’t remember where, exactly, Gene was. This strikes Brinker as unlikely, since he once saw a childhood friend get hit by a car and... (full context)
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Brinker asks who else was present when Finny fell, and somebody says that Leper was there.... (full context)
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Brinker asks Leper to identify if the person who fell was Finny, but Leper refuses to... (full context)
Chapter 12
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The boys act immediately when they hear Finny fall down the stairs. While Brinker makes sure that nobody moves Finny’s body, other boys run to get Dr. Stanpole and... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Brinker invites Gene to the Butt Room to meet his father. When he meets him, Gene... (full context)