A Separate Peace Questions and Answers
by John Knowles

A Separate Peace book cover
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Please explain how Finny is a static character in A Separate Peace. All I can think of is when he always tempts Gene to go along with him all the time (blitzball, the beach, jumping off the tree). THANKS

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It is quite intriguing to think of Phineas (Finny) as a static character in A Separate Peace by John Knowles. He is, in fact, the one who does more unexpected and impulsive things than anyone in the novel. Nonetheless, Finny is a static character for all but the final pages of the novel.

Think about the ways in which, despite his rather unpredictable actions, Phineas remains consistent.

  • He is a poor student who never gets better and never cares to do so.
  • He is a loyal friend, even when he suspects his best friend tried to kill him.
  • He is, until the very end, optimistic and positive, assuming the best of everyone.
  • He disregards all rules, written and unwritten--and that includes Gene's need to study as well as the dress code.
  • He is a consistently good athlete--until his leg is shattered, of course.

There are plenty of other examples, as well. Phineas is a static character--until he faces the reality of his situation. When he finally faces the fact that his best friend did jounce the limb, did cause his broken leg, and did betray his friendship, Finny does change.

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meemla | Student

That is very good and useful information but are you saying that beacuse he dies and he changes when he realizes his friendship is betrayed and his best friend jounced the limb, that overall hes is a dynamic character?