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Research paper topic: A Separate Peace: Chapter 1 - 5644 words
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^^^^^^^^^^A SEPARATE PEACE: CHAPTER 1 Have you ever in your life gone through an experience so intense, so joyful, so painful, or just so important at the time, that you could only understand much later what truly happened? Isn't it a fact that when we're in the middle of an experience, we are often unable to think clearly about it because we're too busy feeling the moment's thrill or sadness to stop and come to sensible conclusions? Our high school years are just such a time: of quick growth and self-discovery, of forging as well as breaking friendships, of proving ourselves to others, in the classroom and on the sports field, and a time when we want very much to be individuals and to stick to our own principles. Meanwhile, we're also getting used to being told what to do and what to learn. The hunger to understand a significant period 15 years earlier in his life brings Gene Forrester, the narrator of A Separate Peace, back to his old high school in New Hampshire, the Devon School, on a wet and cold November day. We meet Gene as he approaches the school through the streets of the surrounding town. He is struggling to conquer his fear at returning to the old place, trying to let enthusiasm carry him along: "I felt fear's echo, and along with that I felt the unhinged, uncontrollable joy which had been its accompaniment and opposite face, joy which had broken out sometimes in those days like Northern Lights across black sky." We already know that something significant and life-changing must have happened to him a long time ago.
He prepares us by building up an atmosphere of suspense as he nears the school that is familiar to him in appearance but also different--because he himself has changed, grown older and wiser. Gene wants us to notice first "a long white marble flight of stairs" inside the First Academy Building. The stairs are hard and forbidding. He turns away quickly. We'll have to let the story unfold quite a bit before we find out what took place there fifteen years earlier.
NOTE: As Gene walks on, toward his second destination on campus, he remarks about the "scholarly and athletic" nature of the school. Aren't most high schools divided like this, whether they're public, private, or parochial, located in cities or in rural areas? Our minds are tested in the classroom, our bodies in the gym. And our friends often judge us on the basis of how well we do in one area or another. This double nature is a constant theme throughout the story, and we want to take note of it here, at the beginning. Farther and farther beyond the confines of the immediate campus, Gene trudges through a fog and dampness that add to the sad and nostalgic mood he establishes. Finally his quest is over.
He finds a special tree, one long branch extending over the river, "not only stripped by the cold season, it seemed weary from age, enfeebled, dry." "Nothing endures," he tells us, "not a tree, not love, not even a death by violence." Did someone die at Devon 15 years ago? Is that the reason for Gene's solitary, melancholy quest on this damp November day? Preoccupied with his mission, he has failed to notice until this moment how soaked through he is, and now he decides to turn back. A little break in the text--a larger space between the paragraphs--alerts us to the flashback. If we were watching a movie, we'd see Gene as a young man in his early 30s standing by the riverbank, wearing a raincoat and a broad-brimmed hat, looking up at this special tree with a wistful and knowing smile on his face. Perhaps he'd nod slowly in understanding. Then there'd be a slow fade-out and fade-in, and now we'd be seeing Gene as a boy of 16, standing on the same spot, looking up at the same special tree--only now he is accompanied by several pals.
The story moves back in time. It is now the summer of 1942. We are about to get some clues to the mystery of the tree at Devon and what happened there. With Gene by the tree is his roommate and best friend, Phineas. As we come to know Gene better, we'll discover he's a shy, introspective boy, the kind who doesn't have a very high opinion of himself.
Phineas is just the opposite. We are told right away that his voice is "the equivalent in sound of a hypnotist's eyes," that his green eyes have "a maniac look," that his wide mouth is often twisted into a "smirk." NOTE: Friendships can come about just as often between people who don't seem to have anything in common as between people who seem to enjoy and care about many of the same things. The comradeship of Gene and Phineas, or Finny, is based on opposites. Keep this in mind as you watch their relationship grow. Finny challenges Gene and the other three boys, Elwin Lepellier ("Leper"), Chet Douglass, and Bobby Zane, to climb the tree, step out onto the overhanging limb, and leap into the river. Senior class boys do this all the time; Finny wants to break tradition by doing it a few months early.
He jumps, and we discover his daring, his need to create tests for himself and others to rise to meet. Finny is Gene's hero, and he quickly becomes ours. He's cut from different cloth than the rest of us; in a way, he's superhuman. Gene follows Finny's lead, plunging frightened into the cold waters, as he will do time and again as the story progresses. Why does he act against his true nature in this way? Because he wants so much to please Finny? Because Finny has "some kind of hold" over him? Because Finny "shamed" him into it? The other boys make excuses and back off. Their not jumping, their not taking risks or breaking rules, draws Finny and Gene even closer together.
As the boys head toward the dormitories on that warm summer evening in wartime (the war itself has not yet touched their lives), Gene and Finny become involved in their own personal combat. When Finny trips Gene, he shows he has to keep the upper hand until Gene in turn trips Finny--then Finny is "definitely pleased." They thrive on competition that lies always beneath the surface, where it must be in any deep friendship. ^^^^^^^^^^A SEPARATE PEACE: CHAPTER 2 One of Finny's great thrills, a part of his daredevil personality, is getting away with such acts of defiance as tree-jumping. But authority wins out time and again. Gene's natural way is to bend with the rules--and school days are full of rules. Thus, when Mr. Prud'homme, one of the summer substitute teachers, stops by their room the next morning to reprimand the boys for missing dinner again, Finny is ready with a breathless speech of excuse.
Gene keeps silent and reports to us. Finny's natural charm and zest for life, "his voice soaring and plunging in its vibrant sound box, his eyes now and then widening to fire a flash of green across the room," win Mr. Prud'homme over. At times like this, when most boys would be intimidated and fearful of punishment, Finny triumphs because he is always searching for common ground in another person, no matter how old he or she may be. Finny recognizes none of the conventional boundaries between people, such as usually exist between teacher and student. He's too full of energy and the simple faith that what he's doing is right. The Devon faculty had never before experienced a student who combined a calm ignorance of the rule with a winning urge to be good, who seemed to love the school truly and deeply, and never more than when he was breaking the regulations.
Finny manages to convince Mr. Prud'homme that he leaped from the tree for the war effort, to bring himself "that much closer to manhood." We find this explanation is especially significant and touching when we realize the boys are still only 16. It's an important age. You're far from childhood and tantalizingly close to many of the rights and privileges of adulthood. You're also close to draft age.
Because A Separate Peace takes place during World War II, we will observe the gradual and inevitable invasion of the war into these boys' lives. In Chapter 2 this war has no immediate danger for Gene and his friends; they feel protected by their familiar surroundings, the old buildings and sentimental teachers who do not want to lose touch with them. They are still more concerned with Latin assignments, trigonometry tests, and wrestling matches than they are with bombs and bullets. And "Phineas was the essence of this careless peace." Phineas represents the flower of boyhood turning ever so slowly into manhood, and that makes his eventual tragedy all the more difficult to accept, both for Gene and for us, the readers who come to know and love him. Finny continues his outrageous but good-natured defiance of school tradition by appearing at afternoon tea in the headmaster's cottage dressed in a shocking pink shirt, his school tie around his waist in place of a belt. If any boy other than Finny had done this, Mr.
Patch-Withers, the substitute headmaster, would have sent him packing. But Finny's intentions are simple and heartfelt. He wears a pink shirt to "celebrate the bombing of Central Europe"; he wears his tie as a belt because he was in such a hurry to dress. NOTE: Perhaps there's another significance here. Do traditions need to be broken from time to time? And are only certain people capable of breaking them successfully without being put down as rebels or revolutionaries? Finny alone is relaxed and at ease sipping tea in the headmaster's cottage. The environment doesn't faze him; he is always himself, first and foremost, wherever he happens to be. This ability to "get away with" things begins to make Gene a little jealous.
But is getting away with things all Finny is attempting? Can that be too simple an interpretation? When Mr. Patch-Withers, despite his buttoned-up manner, enjoys a good, hearty laugh over Finny's outfit, Gene feels "a sudden stab of disappointment." Gene really wants to be proud of his best friend, yet he can't fight down a growing sense of resentment. Somehow, perhaps, Finny's uniqueness makes Gene look less important. "This was my sarcastic summer," Gene admits. "It was only long after that I recognized sarcasm as the protest of people who are weak." Do you agree with Gene? What does this confession tell you about Gene's character? Breaking the expected pattern once more, Finny proposes a jump in the river. Time and again he's the initiator, the one to come up with an odd suggestion. It's a way of keeping Gene on his toes, confused, defensive; but Gene goes along. Finny's power is so strong sometimes that we wonder whether the only reason for Gene to be around, his main purpose in life, is to serve as describer of the wondrous Finny.
At this early point in the story, we may find ourselves thinking that the balance in their friendship is tilted pretty oddly in one direction. Gene follows along passively, noticing in his sensitive, perceptive way the "permanent and never-changing" elm trees and the Devon School woods, which he imagines as the beginning of an unbroken stretch of forest extending all the way to Canada. He wants to hide in the knowledge of security and protectiveness the school offers, like shelter from the storm. Maybe the inner awareness that he's on the brink of growing up makes him fight all the harder to keep from growing up. But we can't have it both ways. Finny urges Gene to make a move by jumping out of the tree first.
Gene would never volunteer to do this, and he tries to stall for time. Then he loses his balance and nearly falls off the limb onto the riverbank. Finny, his quick reflexes in action, reaches out and saves Gene. Then they jump successfully. ^^^^^^^^^^A SEPARATE PEACE: CHAPTER 3 You'd think Gene would be grateful, but he isn't.
He realizes it was Finny's fault in the first place that once more he found himself out on a limb. It's worth considering that expression as a description of a risky state of being, in addition to its literal meaning. Finny thrives at being "on the edge." He loves to be tested by every situation. Part of his friendship for Gene is based on his urge to draw Gene into the same kinds of tests. When we met Finny, Gene said he "almost always moved in groups the size of a hockey team." The crowd acts as a chorus for Finny, boosting him up and making him appear even more different than he is.
So it's no surprise to us when their Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session, created for the sole purpose of tree-jumping, begins with just the two of them as members but quickly expands to include more and more boys. As founding members, Gene and Finny are required to jump first. It is a nightly event. "I hated it," says Gene. "I never got inured to the jumping...
But I always jumped. Otherwise I would have lost face with Phineas, and that would have been unthinkable." It is just as much in character for Finny to make tree-jumping a part of his daily life as it is for Gene to resist it with every fiber in his being while continuing to go along out of sheer desperation and the need for Finny's respect. How long, we wonder, can one person accumulate more and more power over another before something happens to break the flow? Gene begins to observe another unique characteristic of his friend Finny. Not only does he "march to the beat of a different drummer," he goes yet a step further, making up his own rules to live by and then declaring them to everybody else: "Never say you are five feet nine when you are five feet eight and a half." "Always say some prayers at night because it might turn out that there is a God." And the most important rule is, "You always win at sports." How should we interpret this last rule? Perhaps it means that Finny always seeks the positive side of an experience. He believes that even if something bad happens to you, such as being on the losing side in a baseball game or a tennis match, you'll learn from it.
Walking on the sunny playing field one afternoon with Gene, Finny demonstrates his latest rule by expressing his scornful opinion of badminton. He picks up a shuttlecock from the grass and tears it apart, casting the pieces to the wind. Then his eye alights on a large medicine ball, and in a flash he invents the entirely new sport of blitzball. It's as if, in dismissing badminton, Finny makes light of all official sports and games in one fell swoop. The only sport that really makes sense is the one he creates himself. As usual, the other boys go along with Finny, playing the game according to rules he announces from moment to moment.
Once more he is in complete control. The only boy who appears to resent Finny's latest triumph is Gene. The new game is well suited to Finny's endlessly active personality, and every time Finny asserts himself, Gene takes it to heart and sinks a little lower in his own self-esteem. He wants to measure up to his friend, but Finny is always a step ahead of him. Gene can't make a move without Finny, and Finny knows it. When Gene tells us in so many words that he is proud of Finny, we begin to doubt his sincerity, especially once he has admitted that this is his "sarcastic summer." Gene behaves more and more the way he thinks a friend is supposed to behave, and less and less the way he honestly wants to act toward Finny the spellbinder and magician.
NOTE: We are now being reminded with greater frequency of the war going on in the larger world outside the school. Devon, we have seen, is a sheltered and nurturing place where boys have traditionally been allowed to grow, free from outside interference. But it is not always possible to prevent a greater reality from invading our lives. We watch TV, listen to the radio, read newspapers and magazines. In time of war close friends and family members may be sent off to fight.
These circumstances bring thoughts of the conflict home to us. Resist as they might, the boys at Devon are influenced by the war even though they do not fully understand the effect it has on them from day to day. Fighting to ward off the war, Finny exerts more and more energy in pushing himself to greater heights of achievement. Wasn't he the first to announce the "bombing of Central Europe"? We suspect that part of the reason for his frenetic activity may lie in some deep fear of that other conflict, a fear so deep in the summer of 1942 that he can't express it in words, only in actions. With Gene his sole witness, Finny tries to break the school swimming record for the "100 Yards Free Style," competing with a name and a time posted on a board above the swimming pool: "A. Hopkins Parker--1940--53.0 seconds." This simple notice is a direct challenge to Finny.
He won't accept any threat to his prowess, no matter how distant; he never knew A. Hopkins Parker, yet he responds as if the boy were standing there thumbing his nose, daring Finny to action. Notice how Gene describes Finny swimming: "He planed up the pool, his shoulders dominating the water while his legs and feet rode so low that I couldn't distinguish them." Dominating! Not even the elements are exempt from Finny's superiority. As he swims, Finny imagines A. Hopkins Parker beside him, and he knows he is going to break the record--which he does, to Gene's astonishment, by 0.7 second.
Finny refuses violently when Gene suggests he perform the feat again the next day, with an official timekeeper, school officials, reporters, and photographers present. He broke the record for himself, not for anyone else--or not quite anyone else. For Gene was there, and now Gene must carry the terrible burden of this secret. Finny swears him to it. Gene is overwhelmed by the glamour, the "absolute schoolboy glamour" of what has happened.
NOTE: It's worth asking ourselves, in the aftermath of this dramatic episode, whether Finny performed this act of bravado because he wanted to impress Gene, too. Maybe all his wondrous feats are Finny's way of reaching out to Gene, the only way he knows to communicate with him. He'd be uncomfortable looking Gene in the face and saying, "I like you" or "You're my best friend." These words often come out sounding forced even when they are true. Perhaps Finny is the kind of person--and you may have friends like this--for whom actions speak louder than words. Many people have trouble expressing their deepest feelings verbally.
And when they try to show their feelings in other ways, we sometimes wonder whether we're receiving the right message. Finny barely gives Gene time to recover from the impact of the broken swimming record before he suggests they go off to the beach. Perhaps he is reaching yet again for some way to draw Gene closer to him through a shared and equal experience. Once more Gene responds in a manner we may have come to expect. He automatically resists, inside, without showing his reluctance to break free from the secure daily pattern he's fighting to preserve. Instead he agrees quietly, pushing down the very fears which cut into his energy even as Finny continues at fever pitch.
When they arrive at the beach--after a three-hour bike ride during which Finny maintains his performance by singing, riding backward, and telling stories--Gene is overcome by the immensity of the waves. Finny, exactly the opposite, thrives on their strength: he draws power from their force and dives and swims for an hour in the pounding surf. The sand is too hot and the water too cold for Gene, but Phineas "was everywhere, he enjoyed himself hugely, he laughed out loud at passing sea gulls." NOTE: Finny is closely tied to nature. Gene is cut off from nature. Finny dives into experiences and revels in their effects; he cannot get enough of life.
Gene the observer steps back from experiences, keeps a step apart. But without Gene's constant presence, how would we ever find out about the wondrous Finny? As they bed down on a sand dune to sleep beneath the stars, Finny manages to confess, finally and awkwardly, that Gene is his "best pal." We believe him. Gene is the only kind of friend a unique person such as Finny could possibly keep. How different the friendship looks from Gene's side! He cannot answer in kind. "Something held me back," he says. "Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth." A Separate Peace is very much concerned with the problem of what is truthful, and on many levels: the necessity of shared truth between friends and the problem of keeping to honesty; the overwhelming truth of a war on some distant continent; and the even higher truth that is greater than boys or war, the truth that involves destiny, fate, and the extent to which forces beyond our control could be operating to change our lives.
We may not believe in fate, but does that mean it doesn't exist? ^^^^^^^^^^A SEPARATE PEACE: CHAPTER 4 Notice the vocabulary Gene uses to describe Finny sleeping on the beach the next morning as dawn breaks: "he looked more dead than asleep.. gray waves hissing mordantly.. gray and dead-looking.. the beach.. became a spectral gray-white..
Phineas.. made me think of Lazarus." John Knowles likes to set a mood by painting a background portrait of nature's face. Sometimes mood is as simple as our feeling cheerful on a sunny day or mournful on a cloudy one. Sometimes it's as obvious as the womblike effect of the old and comforting Devon School buildings, whose walls insulate the boys from the outside. This time Knowles makes us feel a sense of foreboding, only to end it suddenly when Gene remembers an obligation closer at hand: his trigonometry test. Finny insists on one more swim, their bicycle ride back to school wears Gene out, Gene can't think straight and flunks the test--all because of Finny.
Blitzball follows, then the required evening leap from the tree over the river, then it's back to studying. As the two boys sit opposite each other in their room, their heads bent over books in a pool of light, we note yet another important difference between them. All along Finny has conceived of Gene as a natural scholar certain to graduate at the head of their class, paralleling Finny's natural ability as the top athlete. In Gene's increasingly confused mind, however, he thinks of his intellectual prowess as a threat to Finny's superiority. Gene convinces himself that Finny is plotting to disrupt his concentration.
Was the trip to the beach a part of some grand scheme to interrupt Gene's studies again and again with an unending series of diversions and games? "If I was the head of the class on Graduation Day and.. won [the scholarship award], then.. we would be even." This is a turning point for Gene, a revelation that transforms in an instant his perception of their friendship. Gene's fearful thoughts run wild, and he fights to keep a calm exterior even as the whole structure of their relationship crumbles in his mind. Gene convinces himself that Finny could never stand the thought of the two of them coming out "even," the one in sports and the other in studies.
He convinces himself in moments that he and Finny are the very opposite of friends, that they are bitter rivals to the finish, each out for himself alone. "You did hate him for breaking that school swimming record, but so what? He hated you for getting an A in every course but one last term. You would have had an A in that one except for him. Except for him." The dark thoughts fall like hail. All the doubt and resentment Gene has been suppressing for so long break free to discolor memories of bright summer days passed in innocent play.
Suddenly it appears to Gene that their games were all part of Finny's master plan to bring about Gene's downfall: "It was all cold trickery, it was all calculated, it was all enmity." NOTE: Gene's revelations force us to look back and reexamine everything that's happened between the two boys thus far. Can we agree with Gene's interpretation, or is he making it up out of desperation, as a means of escaping Finny's grasp? Is Finny really a devil rather than a saint, a demon rather than an inspiration to all who come in contact with him? Is it fair for Gene to blame Finny's basic strength of character for his own lack of certainty and strength? Can Gene's resolute reversal hold sway for the rest of the story, or is it merely a passing phase, though a dangerous one, on the road of a good friendship that will have its ups and downs but will ultimately, if it is a true friendship, survive adversity? It's interesting to see how Gene, remaining true to Finny's rule about always winning at sports, converts his gloomy interpretation into a positive path for himself. Once he decides to accept in his own mind that he and Finny are "deadly rivals," he plunges into his studies with new vigor. Once again Finny has inspired Gene to action. Isn't this ironic? Gene takes on the same spirit of dedicated competition that Finny lives and breathes by--with one important difference: Gene's competitive edge is sharpened by his need to attack Finny. Gene is a confused young man.
On the one hand, as summer deepens, he becomes excited by his newfound power. On the other hand, he frightens himself with his newfound hatred for Finny, especially when, caught up in the day-to-day pleasures of school life, he forgets how he is supposed to feel about his "friend." We wonder how clearly Gene has decided how he feels about Finny. He will tell us confidently, "it didn't matter whether he showed me up at the tree or not," and then he'll become all worked up when Finny tries to distract him from his studies. It's not easy just to love or just to hate another person. For Gene it's not a black-and-white situation. There are more gray areas than he would like to admit, and they cloud the words that pass between the two.
The pressure mounts with each passing day. Exam time approaches--Gene's opportunity to establish his superiority once and for all. But it's so often the case that the harder we try to learn from books, the more intensely we focus on the page, the harder it is to absorb the information we find there. Finny, who knows his friend, remarks that he is pushing too hard instead of relying on his natural intelligence. One fateful evening, in the middle of Gene's study session for a French exam, Finny interrupts to announce that "Leper" Lepellier intends to make his first leap from the tree.
As a founding member of the Suicide Society, Gene's presence is required. That is the last straw! Gene is on the brink of accusing Finny of distracting him from his work so that he'll ruin his grade, but once again there's a gulf between his inner suspicions and the words he speaks: "Never mind," Gene says, giving in to his friend's guileless questioning, "forget it. I know, I joined the club, I'm going. What else can I do?" NOTE: Read this important conversation between the two boys closely, and you'll find it difficult at first to decide whether or not Finny is being manipulative. Is he trying to bend Gene to his will by acting as though he doesn't really care whether Gene comes along? Is he pretending when he confesses he didn't realize his friend ever needed to study? It's hard for us to tell where Finny stands because we're witnessing the scene through Gene's eyes, seeing only his version of the encounter.
Gene agrees to go. Perhaps he didn't really feel like studying and was only looking for an excuse to close the book. (All of us have had that impulse at times!) Perhaps, as he thinks on his way across the fields, "there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us" because Finny cannot be measured against any ordinary person. Finny is a superman. Has Gene's failing all along been his alliance, at this sensitive and vulnerable time in his life, with a person who by his very excellence makes anyone else seem small and insignificant in comparison? Or is the author trying to warn in general of the danger of comparing ourselves to others, whoever they may be? The boys reach the tree, and Finny suggests he and Gene make the leap together, "side by side." As far as he is concerned, they are equals; he accepts Gene on the same footing, and they should now demonstrate their faith and trust in each other by taking the ultimate dare together.
This could be the moment when Gene establishes--before the audience of boys gathered on the riverbank--a kind of equality with Finny. NOTE: Gene, standing high above the ground, may not be aware how many streams of doubt, fear, and hope are now coming together. We readers sense that he is at a turning point, and we wonder whether he has the strength to make a decision on his own. Can he go along with Finny's initiative, accept his friend at face value without doubting his motivations, and, most important, try to understand himself a little better? Instead Gene (intentionally, or not?) "jounced the limb," and "Finny, his balance gone.. tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud." Gene, "with unthinking sureness," makes a fearless leap into the river, as if, for the first time, with the fall of Finny, all obstacles to his success have been removed. From this point life will never be the same for anyone in the story; like a drama focused on the rise and fall of a heroic figure, A Separate Peace becomes a tragedy.
^^^^^^^^^^A SEPARATE PEACE: CHAPTER 5 Gene is numb in the aftermath of Finny's fall. He loses touch with his feelings, withdraws into himself, spends more and more time alone. He seems never to have socialized much with the other boys, and with Finny now in the school infirmary, Gene has temporarily lost his reason for being, so closely were they tied. Just before his fall Finny might have realized the truth of their closeness and asked Gene to jump with him in that spirit. Now it's too late. In the privacy and quiet of their room, Gene decides to wear Finny's clothes.
For a while he thrills to the realization that, in a strange way, he is Finny. He has existed as his friend's ambassador to the world, the medium through which others, like us, came to know him. If Gene cannot continue this role, however tentatively, he will have no practical purpose to serve. NOTE: We ask ourselves whether it's healthy for anyone to suspend his or her own sense of identity to such a degree that it becomes completely incorporated into someone else. You have probably heard the phrase "Know thyself" offered as the key to an understanding of the world around you. Does Gene know himself well yet, or does he need Finny's tragedy to open his eyes? Dr.
Stanpole, the school physician, informs Gene that "sports are finished" for Finny. His leg, broken in several places, will never function normally again. Dr. Stanpole places on Gene the responsibility of helping Finny come to terms with this shocking fact, a fact that will be even more difficult to accept for a boy to whom sports represents everything that's wonderful and true about life, the ultimate activity in which there are supposed to be no losers. Gene is now on a new path of his own.
He's making the rapid discovery that he's expected to come through, to be someone Finny can literally lean on in his time of rehabilitation. Gene fights guilt, his new enemy on this path, and goes to visit Finny, who lies in bed in a cast, immobilized for the first time in his life. Gene wants desperately to confess to Finny that the accident was his fault. He wants to clear the air and start afresh, yet he knows that he is the only person Finny has asked to see and that his friend maintains faith in him even now. It's an intolerable position. Finny tries to recall what happened by the riverbank.
"I just fell," he says, his eyes clouded by drugs, "something jiggled and I fell over." He doesn't want to accuse Gene. He is too noble, or perhaps some shadowy question remains. Each admits to wanting to "reach out" at the last moment: Finny's intention was to grasp for a trusted hand to hold; Gene's thought is that Finny wanted to drag him down too. They remain on opposite sides of the ...
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