In the story A Separate Peace, the kids at Devon High are hit by reality when they discover the truth. The Devon High kids aren’t used to war; Gene envies Finny, and Finny envies Gene; and Brinker finds the truth.
First of all, the Devon High School students aren’t used to what war is really like, which causes them to underestimate it. Leper goes into war to see what it’s like, and he comes back completely insane. He is insane because he saw the war firsthand. “They were going to give me a discharge, a Section Eight discharge. A Section Eight discharge is for the nuts in the service, the psychos, the Funny Farm candidates” (165). Leper knows that others consider him insane, and he has invited Gene over to prove to himself that he is not. Some students join the war for fun, even though they would be astonished at what it is actually like. Even Gene was skeptical about joining the war because of what happened to Leper.
Next, Finny and Gene have a huge rivalry going on that they don’t know about at first, and causes their friendship to change. One of the first clues that they have a rivalry is found when Gene makes Finny fall off of the tree. He did this because deep down he knew that Finny was better than him and he was jealous of Gene. Before that, Gene had compared himself to Finny, and didn’t like what he found. “I was beginning to see that Phineas could get away with anything. I couldn’t help envying him a little, which was perfectly normal. There was no harm in envying even your best friend a little” (22). Also, Finny envies Gene for his smartness, showing that he is jealous of Gene. This shows that the rivalry between Finny and Gene is alive and active, even though later on Gene discover that it is actually more one sided.
Lastly, Brinker holds a mock trial to help ease innocence onto Gene, but his plan backfires. Gene actually tells Finny the truth about his envious feelings toward him, and Finny can’t accept this. “He...