A Peace

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade April 2001

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The title refers to the period during which Finny and Gene train for the 1944 Olympics under the influence of Finny's delusion that World War II is a hoax. It also refers to the boys' carefree Summer Session of 1942, the effect of Finny's charismatic anarchy on those around him, and Finny's way of life and world view itself (which Gene adopts by the end of the novel).

The War is always present to some degree in the boys' lives, and they are all expected to join the military at some point. Because the boys are seen as potential soldiers, Finny's injury makes him a "casualty," especially to Brinker. Also, Dr. Stanpole laments in Chapter 12 that the risks always present in life are more formal in war and in the operating room, thus placing Finny's death on a level with a death in war. More important to this question, though, are Gene's conclusions in Chapter 13, in which he says war results from the same thing that caused him to shake the branch (something ignorant in the heart), and equates the reactions of the characters at Devon to their particular fears with reactions of people everywhere to fear in general .

Gene, unfortunately, was bitten by the green-eyed monster of jealousy. Gene just couldn't come to grips with the idea that a person of Finny's stature would want to be his friend. Gene's envy grew to a point where he was willing to severely injure Finny for being too perfect. Unfortunately for Finny, Gene succeeded. Finny's seeming perfection, his strong beliefs, and his ability to forgive trace his development throughout the novel.