How does Brinker goad Gene in Chapter 7 of A Separate Peace? Why? What does it mean that students at Devon had "many public faces" pg88?
What does it mean that students at Devon had "many public faces?" (p. 88)
Brinker goads Gene by giving him a hard time for having a room to himself. He is the kind of guy who loves to hear himself talk; Gene notes that "he never let a dull spot appear in conversation if he could help it." His teasing quickly leads to the insinuation that Gene is guilty of having intentionally hurt Finny, for the ostensible reason of securing a room of his own. Brinker's goading is significant because, whether he is fully aware of it or not, it hits very close to home. Gene has been agonizing with the possibility that he had intentionally, out of a sense of jealousy and resentment, caused the accident in which Finny fell from the tree, and, as expressed in Brinker's half-joking accusation, apparently the question has crossed his mind as well. Brinker's goading puts Gene in the very difficult situation of not only having to face the reality of what he may have done, but of exploring it in the presence of the others as well.
Gene says that
"everyone at Devon had many public faces; in class we looked, if not exactly scholarly, at least respectably alert; on the playing fields we looked like innocent extroverts; and in the Butt Room we looked, very strongly, like criminals."
He is making an observation on the different roles the boys are required to play, and how, when they play them, their physical demeanor actually changes to fit the part. His point in discussing this is to highlight the sinister aspect of the Butt Room, fittingly called "the dungeon." There, where the boys gather to smoke, away from the supervision of the ordered world of adult authority, different rules apply. A sort of unpredictable, potentially threatening atmosphere prevails, and the boys take on the look of "criminals" (Chapter 7).