A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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Is Gene redeemed in the end?

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To be redeemed means to atone for a sin or pay a debt: to make a wrong right and be in the clear. Fifteen years after have deliberately wobbled a branch, causing Finny a fall that ultimately killed him, Gene wants to believe he is redeemed and that all is OK. He recounts that Finny, in his hospital bed, goes to lengths to excuse Gene. Gene accepts Finny's story:

“It was just some kind of blind impulse you had in the tree there, you didn’t know what you were doing. Was that it?”

“Yes, yes, that was it. Oh that was it, but how can you believe that? How can you believe that? I can’t even make myself pretend that you could believe that.”

“I do, I think I can believe that. I’ve gotten awfully mad sometimes and almost forgotten what I was doing. I think I believe you, I think I can believe that. Then that was it. Something just seized you. It wasn’t anything you really felt against me, it wasn’t some kind of hate you’ve felt all along. It wasn’t anything personal.”

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