A Seperate Peace: Finny Essay, Research Paper
Throughout the novel A Separate Peace there were two dominant characters. Perhaps the most useful in the reading of the novel was the character of Phineas, also known as Finny who supplies the qualities of a charismatic, athletic, and strong leader. Finny is the best friend of the novel’s main character, Gene. By reading into the text and integrating the aspects of symbol and theme the reader is given a clear picture of the novel through the character of Finny.
Phineas is the best friend of Gene . In chapter four of the novel Gene pushes Finny out of a tree and Finny breaks his leg. Subconsciously, Finny knows how the accident occurred but is the type of person who wants to believe that all of life is carefree, he hates to acknowledge that a person could actually hurt another. We see a great deal of this attitude when Finny constantly refers to WWII as something created by old fat men in order to keep young boys from having to much fun. After the accident at the tree Gene attempts to tell Finny that it was him who caused the accident, but Finny refuses to believe Gene. Finny believes their friendship is too and in no way would either of them want to mar it. Because of these feelings the thought that Gene caused the accident is more devastating to Finny, than the actual physical pain. The constant theme of Gene’s guilt provides the reasoning for most of the development of the boy’s friendship. It seems that soon after the fall the boy’s friendship becomes rooted more on unstable lies rather than solid truth. It is this grounding that causes the reader to see the tree transform throughout the novel as a symbol for the boy’s friendship.
Aside from being the bearer of incredible emotional and physical pain, Finny also bears the personality that Gene does not. Finny is placed in the novel not only for plot development but to open Gene to a part of himself that is not visible. Finny is an incredible athlete, brave and very humble, this is shown through his breaking of the everlasting school swimming record and not wanting to flaunt is talent. Gene on the other hand is very studious, but not so much an athlete or leader like Finny. Through their friendship as well as the novel Gene finds time for his studies and allows Finny to talk him into jumping out of the tree. It is these qualities that make Finny a filler for Gene’s personality. Here, Finny is thought more of as a theme and symbol rather than a character, he provides the reason for guilt and symbolizes what Gene could be at his full potential. However, the only way for Gene to witness this for himself is Finny dying at the end of the novel, from complications with his accidental fall. Due to Finny’s many qualities needed by Gene, it is necessary for the sake of the reading that Finny die in order for Gene to reach his full potential as a complete character.
Probably one of the more concealed prospects of Finny and the novel is the association to Finny’s accident and the creation story from the Bible. Because Adam suffers from an act committed by Eve, Finny relates to Adam and Gene to Eve. Both accounts deal with the theme of a fall from perfection and the enduring of a symbol of evil, in these cases the apple and broken leg. Gene was overcome by jealousy with all of Finny’s talents it was this emotion that caused him to fall into the temptation of destroying Finny. The same applies to Eve and her strong emotion of temptation that sinned her into tasting the forbidden fruit. Both were looking for a solution to their tempting needs and still committed an act of evil knowing that it came with a consequence. Finny’s relation to Eve helps to better explain the character that Gene unknowingly needed to destroy. By previously knowing the story of Adam and Eve the reader is given insight to the feelings and emotions that the character of Finny possesses.
Without Phineas in the novel, there would be no plot. His character plays off of Gene in order to explain the thoughts the reader must acquire to understand the meaning of the story. A Sperate Peace would not contain a theme of friendship nor a theme of maturity if it were not for Finny’s character. Through the development and significance of Phineas the novel provides a clear picture that without a sturdy friendship, one shake can throw a person off course yet allow them to develop a sense of themself.