What does Dr.Stanpole say about Finny's condition in A Separate Peace?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Near the end of A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Gene Forrester first learns of Finny's death from Dr. Stanpole, who at the moment is "incomprehensible" (185).  Reeling from the shock of his words, Gene can hardly understand how Finny could have died.

Dr. Stanpole explains that "it was such a simple, clean break.  Anyone could have set it" (185).  He did not bother sending Finny to the hospital in Boston, because he thought the operation should be a mere matter of procedure to correct the broken bone.

The doctor goes on to explain that Finny's heart stopped beating during the operation.  He guesses aloud that perhaps some of the marrow must have moved into the blood stream and stopped the heart.  According to Dr. Stanpole, "that's the only possible explanation.  The only one.  There are risks, always risks" (185). 

Dr. Stanpole concludes his talk with Gene by comparing an operating room to a battlefied, as both are places where "the risks are just more formal than in other places" (185).



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