A Separate Peace


Chapter 5 to Chapter 8

Chapter 5

Finny disappears inside the infirmary for a number of days, and no one is allowed to see him. Gene tries to put all thoughts out of his head. He becomes listless. The only thought that does suddenly cheer him up is the thought of putting on Finny’s clothes and “becoming” Finny. He does this one evening and feels Finny’s confidence surge through him. On waking the next morning, however, the confidence is gone and he remembers exactly what he did to Finny. His guilt returns, and so does his confusion.

Dr. Stanpole finally tells Gene that Finny may receive a visitor. He also tells Gene that Finny will walk again but that he will never play sports. Gene is distraught. His visit to Finny is awkward. They discuss the fall. Finny remembers seeing a shocked expression on Gene’s face, as though it were he who had fallen. In a moral sense, it was Gene who fell, since he was the one who caused the accident. Gene is overcome with remorse and suddenly springs to life. Finny is impressed by his surge of energy. Yet before Gene can confess, Dr. Stanpole enters the room and dismisses Gene. Then Finny is sent home to Boston.

The summer session ends, and Gene spends a month of vacation in his hometown in the south. After September, Gene returns to the north. On his way to Devon, he passes through Boston and decides to see Finny at his home. Finny is not surprised to see Gene and reveals that he had been expecting him. He wants to know what Gene has brought him, but Gene’s visit was unpremeditated (contrary to what Finny imagines) and he has brought nothing. Gene is embarrassed by his selfishness and thoughtlessness.

Gene does another unexpected thing: He confesses that he caused Finny’s fall. Finny refuses to believe it. Gene begins to doubt himself and his own intentions. However, he sees that his confession has injured Finny in a new and deeper way. He departs as quickly and unexpectedly as he has come, managing to squeeze off a joke before going by telling Finny he would never live by the...

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Essays About A Separate Peace