What Happens to Finny and Gene in the Novel "A Separate Peace"?


Quick Answer

Finny and Gene become friends while they attend Devon School together in the 1940s in John Knowles's novel "A Separate Peace." Gene has a bit of a jealousy issue in regards to Finny, as Finny is not only well-liked but also quite athletic. Other students are aware of this mild jealously, which makes them believe that when Finny falls out a tree, breaking his leg, it was really Gene who caused it.

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Full Answer

Gene's jealousy of Finny eventually turns to a resentful hatred that he is able to mask. This feeling eventually subsides when Gene realizes that Finny just wants to see Gene succeed. One day during their ritual tree jumping routine, Gene's bouncing of the tree limb causes Finny to fall and break his leg, ending any chance Finny has of ever becoming a famous athlete, which was his dream. Gene becomes stricken with guilt and eventually confesses to Finny, who does not believe him.

When Finny eventually returns to school, a meeting is held where the other schoolboys proclaim that Gene caused Finny's injury on purpose. Finny does not want to hear it and rushes out of the room, re-breaking his leg after falling down the stairs. It is during the surgery to correct this latest injury that Finny dies.

After Finny's death, Gene decides against going into the military as he had originally planned and instead reflects on the condition of the human heart, realizing that everyone except Finny has animosity towards others.

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