Falling Out


In the book A Separate Peace, Finny and Gene co-crete this club for the summer and in order to be apart in it the initiation is to jump from a tree into a river; the trick was jumping far enough out so you didn’t land on the river bank and break something.  So far Finny and Gene had been the only members, but one evening in August a boy named Elwin Lepellier or Leper decided he wanted to jump in order to be a part of this “club”.  By the time everyone had gathered by the riverbank to witness the event, Finny decided that before Leper jumped, Gene and him would jump first but together, something that had never been done before.  However right before they both hoped off the branch Gene accidentally shook it trying to catch his balance but knocked Finny off balance in the process causing him to fall and shatter his leg.  This event I believe is the climax in the story because, before all this happens the author stresses how good Finny is at sports,  “Even as a Lower Middler (sophomore) Phineas had been the best athlete in the school.” (p.8).  The author wants to make it clear that this is all he has going for him because he does so poorly in school, ” ‘Listen, I could study forever and never break a C.  But its different for you, you’re good.  You really are.  If I had a brain like that, I’d-I’d have my head cut open so people could look at it’ ” (p. 50).

After Finny falls and shatters his leg and while Gene is visiting him in the infirmary the Doctor says that thankfully it looked like Finny was going to be able to walk again, but most likely nothing more.  Gene realizes that the only chance Finny had in excelling in life and the one passion that Finny had, sports, was ruined and that it was all Genes fault.  Over the course of the few weeks following the doctors visit Gene manages to convince him self that he had purposefully shaken the branch because he was so angry at and jealous of Finny.

During the train ride back from their two month summer break Gene decides that Finny deserves to know what he did and what actually happened, so before returning to school he stops by Finny’s house and confesses everything.  Now why did Gene blame himself for Finny’s fall and convince Finny and himself that he had done it on purpose.  I think that it was all Gene’s mind that tricked him into thinking it was his fault, he needed someone to blame and couldn’t handle that it couldn’t have just possibly been an accident.  The reason I think Gene needed a reason was because of all the emotions that Gene was dealing with even before the accident, around how selfish he thought Finny was and that the reason why he was always pulling Gene away from his studies was because he didn’t want Gene to succeed at something and become better that him at something by becoming class valedictorian.  Gene’s brain had played a total trick and had turned him into this jealous, anxious and obsessive person thinking Finny’s every move was based to destroy Gene.  However when Gene found out that Finny thought school came easy to him and that Gene didn’t have to study like Finny didn’t had to practice sports Gene felt so awful for things of Finny in such a horrible way that he felt like he needed to be punished there fore blaming him self for Finny’s fall.

By: Kyra Smith-Stewart


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