In A Separate Peace, how do the ways Gene, Finny, and Leper play blitzball reveal their characters?
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Blitzball does reveal the boys' characters very clearly. After inventing the game, Finny played it with abandon, pushing himself to top his previous day's performance. He played with an uninterrupted flow of energy and dominated the game. Gene recalls that "[Finny] created reverses and deceptions and acts of sheer mass hypnotism which were so extraordinary that they surprised even him . . . "
Just as he lived his life, Gene played blitzball joylessly, focusing on the rules and protesting when they were not logical. The rules were frequently unclear since Finny made them up as they went along. On one occasion, Finny made up a new rule on the spot so that Leper would be able to continue playing. Finny never wanted anyone excluded. He lived for friendship. Winning a game was never as important to Finny as having everyone play it.
In playing blitzball, Leper followed the others, as usual. Gene recalls, "Leper Lepellier was loping along outside my perimeter, not noticing the game, taggling along without reason." When Gene threw Leper the ball, Leper's reaction reflected his basic nature and approach to life: "Taken by surprise, Leper looked up in anguish, shrank away from the ball, and voiced his first thought, a typical one. 'I don't want it!'" Like Gene's and Finny's, Leper's character is clearly revealed in the game.
Finny makes up the game of blitzball spontaneously, adding adaptations as he goes. He peppers his instructions to the other players with phrases like "naturally", and "of course". To him, the game as it evolves, makes perfect sense, even though to the others, it is quite offbeat. Finny lives his own interpretation of reality in life, and this propensity is reflected in the game. While the game includes everyone, he himself is "sensationally good" at it, having unconciously devised its rules to suit his strengths. In a tribute to the charisma with which he approaches all aspects of life, the others end up being "more or less bumblers" at the sport, but no one seems to really mind.
Gene protests many aspects of the game Finny invents, but always ends up accepting his friend's off-the-wall explanations and finds himself following instructions anyway. In retrospect, he sees that Finny has created a completely illogical system in which he shines but the others have a more difficult time, but he concludes, "it served us right for letting him do all the planning...I didn't really think about it myself...what difference did it make?" This comment reflects Gene's character; he is a follower, who does not easily act on his own inclinations, and oftentimes does not even think about it.
Leper remains on the outskirts of the game, and is frightened when he is inadvertently included in it. This is the way he approaches life; he lives on the margins and is inept when forced to face reality (Chapter 3).
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