A Separate Peace Finny Character Analysis Essay

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Revealing Finny’s Character Through the Setting
John Knowles’ fictional novel, A Separate Peace, centers around the story of Gene Forrester and his friend Finny, two teenage boys enrolled in a private boarding school during the early 1940s. While the actions and events in the text allow the reader to gain an understanding of the characters, the setting itself provides a great deal of insight about each character’s personality, especially Finny’s. In numerous ways, Knowles uses the setting of his novel to help reveal various aspects of Finny’s character, such as his natural leadership abilities, his peerless athleticism, and his innate charisma.
Throughout the text, Finny constantly displays his natural authority and leadership skills. Finny
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Since Devon is an all-boys boarding school, Finny’s environment is bound to be highly competitive, especially when it comes to sports. Despite the numerous athletes at the school, Finny appears to shine above them all with seemingly no effort at all. One such example is when Finny unofficially breaks the school’s 100 meter freestyle swimming record, much to the amazement of Gene. “The sports Finny played officially—football, hockey, baseball, lacrosse—didn’t have school records. To switch to a new sport suddenly, just for a day, and immediately break a record in it—that was about as neat a trick, as dazzling a reversal as I could, to be perfectly honest, possibly imagine”(Knowles p.45). The fact that Finny is not a member of the swim team, and yet is able to beat the swimming record on his very first attempt, certainly exhibits his athletic prowess. It shows that he not only excels in sports that he regularly plays, but also in the activities that he attempts simply out of curiosity or for fun. The pool incident, however, also provides the reader with additional information about Finny. Because Finny chooses to attempt to break the school record in a nearly deserted pool, the reader is able to see that Finny is not seeking after the recognition that comes with achievement. He simply wants to try his best because he has a genuine love for sports. He does not feel the need to
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