A Separate Peace

myron burton


A Separate Peace begins with Gene Forrester, our narrator, visiting the prep school in New Hampshire he attended as a young man during World War II – the Devon school. Months before his junior year, standing before the very same tree. Among others, he's there with his friend and roommate Phineas, a.k.a. "Finny," and a quiet boy named Elwin Lepellier who is unfortunately nicknamed "Leper." Finny decides they should jump out of the tree; Gene complies but no one else does. The two boys now share this bond. They also happen to be roommates.As the Summer Session continues, we see that it's not all peachy keen between Gene and Phineas. Finny is an incredible athlete, unbelievably charismatic and just brimming with sixteen-year-old vitality. He can get away with anything, rules-wise, because the faculty members are so enticed by his charm. In short, Gene is jealous. Gene assumes Finny feels as jealous of his academic abilities as he feels about Finny's athleticism. When Gene finds out that this isn't true. Meanwhile, the boys have formed a club that involves jumping out of the aforementioned tree every night. On the day that Gene experiences his epiphany about Finny's good character, Finny proposes that they make a double jump, both boys leaping out of the tree and into the river together. Up in the tree, as Finny ventures out on the limb ahead of his roommate, Gene "jounce[s] the branch." Finny falls, rather than leaping forward, and thus lands on the hard ground instead of in the water. He "shatters" his leg, which means sports are finished for this grand athlete, forever.