A Separate Peace


Chapter 9 to Chapter 13

Chapter 9

Gene reflects that he has “lapsed” into Finny’s vision of peace, which is, of course, a fantastical vision. Again, the main reason for the lapse is Gene’s “happiness”—in other words, his emotions.

For all the talk of enlistment, surprisingly it is Leper Lepellier who actually enlists—which, Gene observes, makes the war all the more unreal: “No real war could draw Leper voluntarily away from his snails and beaver dams,” states the boy Gene. The adult Gene provides no commentary. It is probable that Leper enlists for the same reasons that had earlier compelled Gene: a sense of being finished with Devon. The sad fact, however, is that Leper has been conned by military propaganda: A recruiter shows a film of ski troops to the senior class and makes war look clean and fun and beautiful. Leper is deceived and won over.

For this reason, Leper becomes the boys’ emblem of the wartime heroics. Even though he had been aloof at school, they imagine (with great hilarity) that Leper is behind every heroic campaign of the Allies. Only Finny refuses to take part the boys’ war talk. In fact, Finny disapproves of Gene’s partaking of it, as well. Finny draws Gene away from the other boys so that the two of them inhabit their own little world, at the center of which is the boyish illusion of the Olympics.

A description of bleak winter follows. Gene observes how as winter recedes, all that can be seen and heard are the drains. It is a depressing but vivid image. Only Phineas, however, fails to notice the climate. Finny, on the contrary, decides that there should be a winter carnival. It is the first time that he has taken to organizing anything since returning to school. Naturally, the idea is supported by the others.

The boys come into the possession of hard cider and perform a kind of bacchanalia in celebration of winter and fantasy. They drink and crown one another and nearly run riot in the dorms. Finny does a dance of peace. The celebration is...

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Essays About A Separate Peace