Section Three Assignment Understanding Character and Making Connections There are three important characters in A separate Peace. They are Gene, Finny and Leper. All three of these characters are completely and in every way different, they all represent their own type of person in today's society.
Gene Forrester The book starts with Gene Forrester revisiting the campus of his old school, Devon School. Devon School is were Gene spent all his years as a student, but this book focuses and his sixteenth and seventeenth years. The event that is told in this book has had a lasting effect on Gene, which is why he is revisiting his old school. During his visit Gene pay special attention to an old tree that overhangs the close by river. We find out later that in this place is were the most tragic moment of Gene's life took place.
With this information in hand we can start to look at Gene's character.
One this that will help us understand Gene's character is if we contrast his life style to the life style of Finn's. In other words it is almost impossible to understand the basic elements of Gene's personality with out bring in certain aspects of Finny's nature.
Gene's life has always been one of conformity and obedience to rules and regulations. Gene devoted himself to fulfilling the demands made upon him by his superiors. He prefers to be in accord with the rules and accepted behavior of then times. He is not the natural rebel who does things contrary to the dictates of society. Furthermore, he likes to be aware of all the possible implications in any situation before he acts. In general, he is not an individualist even though the person he most admires is an extreme individualist. It is easier for Gene to go with the crowd than it is for him to go against it.
Gene is basically reserved by nature. He does not like to express his emotions directly. Finny is able to express his feeling openly no matter what the situation may have been.
The personality of Finny is the exact opposite of Gene. Gene is always trying to win Finny's approval. For example when the two go to the beach together and miss an important test Gene did not want to go but Finny said it would be fun. Gene not wanting to lose Finny's respect and goes with him, spending the night sleeping in the sand, and breaking almost every rule in the book.
When Gene finally realizes that he can be at all like Finny he can't live with himself. When Finny is standing on the branch above the river, Gene sees his chance to bring his role model down to his level. Shaking the branch and making Finny fall was Gene's way of bring Finny down to his level. Now that there is no one to look up to Gene devotes himself trying to make it up to Finny for the terrible betrayal he committed.
By trying to make it up to Finny Gene realizes that he could and can never be like Finny. It is only much later in life that he is able to recognize that man must be himself and assimilate accordingly, and cannot measure himself by the abilities of another person.
Phineas (Finny) Finny was a natural-born athlete, who moves with grace in almost every thing he did. Finny would excel at almost every thing he tried. He was never seen to make an awkward move until the unfortunate accident when he fell out of the tree. The action was the first ungraceful act that any one had ever seen him do.
Finny is a person who respond tot he immediate present. He is will to try something that no one has ever done before. Most of Finny's actions are spur of the moment dissuasions. For example, it was a sudden inspiration that caused him to jump from the tree or to go to then beach for the night. Finny is a man of action, not someone who is draped down by the burden of rules, conformity or regulations. It is almost like Finny is addicted to adrenaline, being in the mist of action it always on the top of his list of this to do.
When Finny gets involved in something, he goes in blind. He put caution to the wind, thinking only of having fun but not want the consequences or the problems involved in any action. Finny is a very carefree person, he is not afraid to express his emotions or his feelings to any one. This is because he is perfectly sure of himself and never fears of making a blunder are a mistake.
He trusts other people with the same degree of faith that he himself expects to be trusted. Consequently, he feels ashamed of himself when he even thinks momentarily that Gene is responsible for his fall from the tree. In general, Finny is the perfectly natural and spontaneous person who is not capable of doing something mean or ugly. He responds to life with natural emotions and all things, except studying, come easily to him. He is not capable of such emotions as jealousy or envy. He lives in a world of happiness and joy and he communicates these qualities to the people whom he meets.