.. d people, dont you?” He continues, “Or hospitals . . .And Naturally no schools. Or churches.” Finny doesnt fully understand the impact of war on people, he doesnt understand that war kills people physically and mentally and he doesnt understand that it affects everyone that has a close relationship with the it (not including himself).
It affects women, children, old people, hospitals, churches and schools. Finny has created a false reality here and it is emphasized even more on the next page when he says he believes that, “the school is involved in everything that happens in the war, its all the same was and the same world” (Knowles, 20). The truth is that the war is partially involved in the war, but not the way Finny believes it is. Finny has created a separate peace at Devon that he substitutes for the real war. Meanwhile, Gene understands that the war is being fought on is, “All foreign lands..
inaccessible except to servicemen; they are vague distant, and sealed off as though behind a curtain of plastic.”(Greiling) This passage shows us that Gene may of not fought a war first hand and doesnt understand its true destruction bought does understand it to his best knowledge. This is unlike Finny who creates his own war in Devon. This is Finnys separate peace because it lacks the real characteristics of the real war. The point in the book when everything turns is when Finny announced “Leper was going to take his first leap.” This was not the first time that Leper had said this, but Gene went along anyway. When they arrived Finny announced that Gene and him were going to make the jump together. This is the first time that the two different realities are set next to each other.
While on the limb Gene “Jounced the limb.” (Knowles, 52) “Finny lost his balance and fell violently and shattered one of his legs while Gene jumps with unthinking sureness. Here we see that when the two realities compared side by side. Finnys falls and shatters while Genes succeeds with sureness. “(Ellis, 313) After falling out of the tree Finnys way of creating a separate peace was finished. Finny will never be the same after this.
“Peace has deserted Devon” (Knowles, 64) this is the title of chapter six. Finny isnt present at Devon at the beginning of the fall session. This is indicating the lack of peace; the lack of peace the school has learned to know when Finny was present. With the lack of Finnys reality the reality of war begins to seep into Devon. As school goes on winter comes around, and two hundred boys are recruited to shovel snow off the railroad yards as part of the war effort. Then later on in the same chapter Brinker announces, “Im giving it up, Im going to enlist. Tommorow.” This is just the beginning of war starting to seep into Devon.
“Five of the younger teachers were missing, gone into the war. Mr. Pike had come in his Naval ensigns uniform. . .” With all of this happening Finny is not going to give up his reality without a fight.
Finny found out that Gene had signed up as an assistant to a team and informs Gene “if I cant play sports, youre going to play them for me” (Knowles, 77). Gene doesnt go against this because of the great friendship he shares with Finny. That and he might be feeling bad for what he has done to Finny. To try to resurrect Finnys separate peace, he tells Gene,” Youre going to be the big star now.” Gene is hesitant to take this on and goes on to explain that sports didnt seem as important to him with the war on. Finny responds to this, “Have you swallowed all that war stuff.
. . there isnt any war.” This is the point at which Gene comes to realize that Finny doesnt believe there is a real war going on. Finny goes on to make Gene do what he can no longer do: compete physically. He does this in order to keep the idea of the separate peace alive.
The idea of Finny not understanding the war is emphasized more when Finny tells Gene that he is going to train him for the Olympics in 1944. Gene responds by telling Finny “there isnt going to be any Olympics in 44. Thats only a couple years away. The war-” Finnys response is, “Leave your fantasy life out of this. Were grooming you for the Olympics, pal, in 1944.” Finny openly defies the idea that there is a war going on and that it is affecting people around the world.
The 1944 Olympics do not occur. This is the beginning of the end for Finnys separate peace and the events that follow bring out the undeniable reality of the war. The reality of war is on them when they receive a telegram from Leper saying, “I have escaped and need help. I am at Christmas location. You understand.
No need to risk address here. My safety depends on you coming at once.” Your Best Friend, Elwin Leper Lepellier Gene goes to visit Leper and finds he has changed. The first thing he notices is Lepers left side of his lip lifting involuntarily. Gene comes to find that Leper abandoned the Army after realizing that he was going to receive a Section Eight any ways (a Section Eight is a discharge because of a lack of psychological control). It is found that Leper does appear to have mental illness and has turned into a violent person who is very angry-something that Leper definitely wasnt before he was in the war. Gene brings the news of Lepers situation back to the school to lay out the undeniable confirmation of the war.
Leper has proven to us that there is a war and that it can kill the body and spirit. Eventually there is a trial to find out the truth about Finny falling out of the tree. The trial never found out if Gene made the limb bounce, but there was a deeper meaning in the trial. When the boys were arguing about the truth Finny says, “I just dont care. Never mind!” (Knowles, 169) Gene then narrates, “These words shocked Phineas into awareness.” (Knowles, 169) Finny then runs out of the room and then falls down the stairs. Finnys separate peace is shattered along with his leg.
Finny then dies in a simple operation; Devons separate peace is then shattered. With out Finnys separate peace Devon comes to the reality of war is upon them. Devon sets up a shop for making parachutes. This goes to show that indeed, Genes reality is the truth: the war is very real and very destructive. (Ellis, 317) “John Knowles communicates what war really is.
He uses complex characters in a very complicated plot in order to convey the harsh, sad, cruel, destructive forces of war. Gene and Finnys relationship that includes the opposition illustrates this fact. Their relationship is used by Knowles to establish the terrible reality of war in all of its essence.” (Greiling).