Why is Finny's fall from the tree ironic in A Separate Peace?

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reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Finny's fall from the tree is ironic at several levels. First of all, Finny is a gifted athlete so on the basic level, it is ironic that a young man as physically talented as Finny should ever do anything so ungraceful as fall from a jounced tree limb. The second level of irony lies within Gene's character. Gene, who is not as athletic and fears the tree, is able to complete a perfect, graceful jump after Finny's fall, illustrating Gene's sense of rivalry with Finny, his best friend. More importantly, it is ironic that one friend gains strength from the other's injury and the tree becomes a metaphor for Gene's failure as a person, his darker side as it is apparent that Gene caused Finny's fall from the tree and metaphorically, from grace.

teacherscribe eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several.  First, his best friend, Gene, jounces the limb and causes him to fall.  Finny is betrayed by the one person who he trusted implicitly.  Second, as he is about to fall, he has this awkward moment where he loses his balance and falls.  This is ironic because Finny is the best athlete at the school, yet he cannot regain his balance and plummets from the branch. 

The repercussions of the fall are also ironic.  Since it was such a bad break, sports are now out of the question for Finny.  Again this is ironic because he was such a phenomenal athlete and now will never play sports again.

barbie5667 | Student

to: ireadoltyo

that is dramatic irony because phineas don't know anything about this until he remembers it in ch-12(i think) and we know everything that is happenening..


ireadalotyo | Student

is this situational irony or dramatic irony??

jmurph | Student

Near the beginning of the story, Gene almost falls off the tree, but just in the nick of time, Finny grabs his hand and saves him from falling off. Gene didn't have to reach out or anything, Finny just grabbed his hand. But, when Finny fell, Gene caused the fall on purpose. As Finny fell, he said that he remembers turning around and reaching out almost as if wanting Gene to catch him, but Gene doesn't. So when Gene mentioned that he almost fell but Finny saved him from falling, Gene caused Finny, the one who saved him, to fall.

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A Separate Peace

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