In the novel A Separate Peace, what evidence supports that the climax of the novel is when Finny falls from the tree branch?

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would completely disagree with the choice of climax being the moment when Finny falls from the branch. I find it to be closer to the end of chapter 10-early 11 when Finny breaks his leg a second time after learning that Gene intentionally hurt him the first time his leg broke.

This climax, the real climax, allows much complication to arise before it occurs. That is what rising action is, the building of complication. Some of these include:

  • Gene trying to tell Finny the truth and Finny not accepting it.
  • Finny trying to make Gene an Olympic superstar that he can no longer be himself.
  • Gene building friendships with other kids and making Finny jealous (Leper, Brinker)

If you are really going to go with Finny falling out of the tree as the climax though, I would suggest that the complications that arose to lead to that point would be Gene's obvious jealousness as demonstrated through these experiences:

  • The game Blitzball that Finny creates in the beginning of the story wherein Finny's athleticism reigns supreme over all the other boys.
  • The Headmaster's Tea in chapter 2. Finny keeps the adults engaged in conversation and takes great risks with them including wearing a pink shirt. This makes Gene increasingly jealous that Finny can do just about anything and get away with it.
  • The time that Finny devotes to play. Gene works hard and vows to make sure he is the best at academics. Since that is where he can shine, he wants to make sure Finny can see it.

Good luck with whatever assignment you are working on. I encourage you to reconsider the climax.

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A Separate Peace

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