The novel A Separate Peace is a story about two best friends, Gene and Phineas (Finny), who both attend the Devon school in New Hampshire in 1942. Gene Forrester is an intellectual, confined, straight-laced seventeen year old, while Finny is an athletic free-spirit who isn't afraid to say what he thinks and is admired by everyone. The story is a flashback in which Gene recalls his fears and insecurities during the midst of the Second World War at the Devon school. Out of jealousy and the fear that Finny is trying to sabotage his studies, Gene shakes a tree branch that they were both standing on, and Finny falls out of the tree and shatters his leg. It is at that point where their relationship changes into more of a codependency which leads to them developing their own individual identities by living within their own illusion that World War II is a mere conspiracy. Finny dies suddenly during the operation on his broken leg , but Gene doesn't cry. He deals with the tragic news with a sort of tranquility because he believes that he is a part of Finny. Gene reflects on the constant enmity which takes over the present youth, and he believes only Finny was immune to this plague.
A Separate Peace is a novel that criticizes society, based on a romantic point of view of human nature. Firstly, Gene's aggressive nature is being nurtured by societies preoccupation with competition, inner-enemies, and power. Contrasting to Gene, Finny has a natural goodness about him that has not been corrupted by society. Lastly, the Devon school is a symbol of rivalry and competitiveness of the world, which has produced a devastating war on a much larger scale.
Gene Forrester is the narrator of the novel, telling the story as a flashback on his youthful days at Devon. He is the source of all the reader's information, but is somewhat an unreliable source, regarding his insights into his actions and motivations. We see that he has an aggressive nature about