Plot summary[ edit ] Gene Forrester, the protagonist, returns to his old prep school, Devon a thinly veiled portrayal of Knowles' alma mater, Phillips Exeter Academy fifteen years after he graduated, to visit two places he regards as "fearful sites":
The novel is Knowles first and best-known published work. The main plot of the novel revolves around a man named Gene Forrester who revisits his old high school in New Hampshire and thinks about how little it has changed and how much he has changed. Most of the novel is told through a flashback to his teenage years during World War II, where we see him as a sixteen-year-old boy and meet his best friend Finny.
One day, while Finny and Gene are taking turns jumping from a large tree branch into a river on the school ground, Gene jostles the branch and Finn slip off and hits the riverbank below with enough force to shatter his leg.
Though Finny begins to heal, he is deemed unfit to play sports or join the war as the other boys intend to once they finish school. Finny remains optimistic and upbeat but Gene struggles with the realization that he may have purposely hurt his friend out of resentment. Soon, another student begins to suspect Gene of lying about what happened the night Finny was hurt and organizes an informal tribunal of students to try and ascertain what really happened.
During the tribunal, Finny becomes so upset by the accusations against Gene that he runs from the room sobbing and mistakenly falls down the stairs, re-breaking his healing leg. Shortly afterward, during an operation on the leg, Finny passes away and Gene is left to finish school and enlist in the Navy.
Back in the future, Gene thinks about how he made a war out of his time at school and perceived Finny to be an enemy when he was truly a friend. He makes a point to visit all of the spots on the campus that he most associates with that fear.
First is on of the staircases in an academic building and the second is a tree growing on the bank of a river that runs along the edge of the campus.
He recognizes the specific tree based on the scars across its trunk and thinks that the tree now seems smaller than it did when he was a boy.
Now the narrative flashes back to the summer of Finny attempts to convince the boys to jump off of one of the trees long branches and into the rushing river.
He notes that the jump is regularly done by the older boys departing from the school in aid to their training for the war. Finny is the first to jump, inspiring the other boys with confidence.
Gene is second but the other boys refuse. The group goes back to the center of campus. Finny tells Gene that he jumped well once he was shamed into it and Gene denies this accusation even though he inwardly knows it to be true. Finny and Gene engage in some roughhousing and then go back to their room to do homework.
That day, Finny decides to wear a bright pink shirt in solidarity and in celebration of the allied bombing of central Europe. Gene notes that he envies Finny for being able to get away with wearing the color pink and that Finny seems to be able to get away with anything he wants.
They decide to go back to the tree and jump into the river again. When they go to jump from the tree once again, Gene turns to make a sarcastic remark to Finny and loses his balance.
Finny halts his fall, catching him by the hand and Gene thinks that Finny may have just saved his life, however, upon reflection he realizes that he would not have been in the tree at all had it not been for Finny, therefore, he does not really owe him gratitude.
That night, Finny convinces six other boys to join their society. He begins to think up rules, including requiring him and Gene to begin each meeting by jumping out of the tree.
Gene does not contest this rule although he hates it and still fears the jump. Soon, Finny and Gene decide to go to the beach, a trip that the school strictly forbids. The trip takes them hours on a bicycle. Gene agrees to go despite his disinterest in the plan.
The ocean is too cold and the sand too hot. Finny enjoys himself regardless. The two eat hotdogs and manage to obtain beer by showing forged draft cards.
Then they lie among the dunes where Finny says that he is glad that Gene decided to come along and that he considers him his best friend. Gene starts to agree but hesitates at the last moment and ultimately says nothing.
The boys spend all night on the beach and awaken with the dawn. They head back to campus, where Gene takes a trigonometry test.
He fails and laments that it is the first time that he has ever failed a test. Finny tries to cheer him up and assures him that he works too hard anyway.A short summary of John Knowles's A Separate Peace. This free synopsis covers all the crucial plot points of A Separate Peace.
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A Separate Peace is a novel by John Knowles that was first published John Knowles' novel ''A Separate Peace'' is a classic coming-of-age story, primarily concerning the friendship of two young men growing up during World War II.
A Separate Peace Novel by John Knowles. A Separate Peace By: Anonymous E-mail: [email protected] com A Separate Peace A Separate Peace is a novel by John Knowles that is about prep school experiences during World War II.
This book was a good story about an adolescents attempt to understand the world and himself. A Separate Peace John Knowles. BUY Home; Literature Notes; A Separate Peace; Book Summary; Table of Contents. All Subjects. Book Summary; About A Separate Peace; Character List; Summary and Analysis; Chapter 1; Chapter 2; when Finny insists that Gene leave his books to jump from the tree again.
High in the tree with his .