What Causes Finny's Death In A Separate Peace

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In the novel A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Gene Forrester inadvertently causes the death of his best friend, Finny, a tragedy which results in his premature metamorphosis from an envious and insecure teenager into a man who loves himself and therefore others. At the beginning of the novel, during the summer session at Devon School, Gene describes his feelings about Finny’s evading disciplinary action for using a tie as a belt, a dress code violation: “He had gotten away with everything. I felt a sudden stab of disappointment. That was because I just wanted to see some more excitement; that must have been it” (Knowles 28). Gene is tired of Finny’s rule-breaking and is jealous of Finny’s powers of persuasion. Gene seems ashamed of his feelings and tries to…show more content…
I couldn’t stand this” (59). This discovery shatters Gene emotionally because he realizes that all of his feelings of resentment towards Finny are caused by all of his own misperceptions and insecurities. All of the pent-up jealousy inside of Gene releases itself and pushes Gene to commit the ultimate betrayal, jouncing a tree limb that causes Finny to fall into a river bank, an action which leads to Finny shattering his leg. At first, Finny believes that this was all just an accident and even denies that Gene is responsible for his injury when Gene tries to confess to him. Near the end of the novel, though, the relationship between Gene and Finny has been restored by Finny’s realization that Gene was the cause of his injury and his unconditional forgiveness for that wretched deed, but Finny dies soon after. Gene later joins the army after high school and sums up his military experiences: “I never killed anybody and I never developed an intense level of hatred for the enemy. Because my war had ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there” (204). In this moment of reflection, Gene realizes two ironies of his
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