Gene recounts the events of that entire day down to the smallest and most mundane details. Why might the author have chosen to do this?
Chapter 12 of A Separate Peace
Page 191 Last paragraph that starts and ends on page 193
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This is the day that his best friend died! Many people's minds turn back to the last time they had seen or spoken to a loved one after the fact. Sometimes an interesting question to ask someone is what they would do if they knew that today was their last day to live. Gene goes to school and does his normal routine from the time he talks with Finny until he finds out that Finny died. The difference between life and death is only one second if you really think about it. One second a person can be breathing and the next second they aren't.
Dr. Stanpole tells Gene to come back at 5 o'clock that afternoon to see Finny coming out of the surgical sleep; so being obedient, he went along like a robot through his afternoon duties. But Gene watched the clock. His heart and his mind were with Finny during the operation. It is also interesting to note that his memory was called into question the night before about the tree incident. Yet, 15 years later as he writes the story he can remember minute-by-minute what lie was like right before Finny dies. Maybe the question is not whether or not we can remember exactly what happens, sometimes, but how we remember it? And, what is worth remembering and what's not? Is it worth remembering our childish mistakes like how and why the tree incident happened? The human mind is an interesting thing, for sure.
The Doctor sums it up pretty well, though, when he says, "Why did it have to happen to you boys so soon, here at Devon?" What happened? War? Death? Life?
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