This is a follow-up to a question that someone else posted about Gene and Finny's friendship.  I am interested in writing an essay on his/her topic. What do the scenes at the  Headmaster's...

This is a follow-up to a question that someone else posted about Gene and Finny's friendship. 

I am interested in writing an essay on his/her topic. What do the scenes at the  Headmaster's Tea, Blitzball and the winter carnival show about Finny's or Gene's virtue.


Expert Answers
Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Concerning Finny's and Gene's virtue in A Separate Peace, I'll comment on the winter carnival.  I'm not sure "virtue" is the correct word, though.  Virtue seems too serious and perhaps has negative connotations that don't seem to fit the situation.

Two elements of the winter carnival can help you here, I think.  First, Brinker takes obsessive control of the hard cider he has attained.  He arranges for someone else to guard it for him when he himself can't do it throughout the day, and then stands guard over it himself as the boys are about to begin the carnival.  Apparently, Finny has arranged--when he gives the word--for everyone to "jump" Brinker and grab the cider.  That is how the carnival gets underway.  The sense that I get from this is that Finny can't allow anyone to have a false sense of control or security.  He's not hurtful, just instructive.  Brinker's control was an illusion.  Finny, at least on the surface, has a monopoly on illusion.  You'll have to read the incident yourself and see what you think.

Second, and more obvious and widely written about, is Finny's vicariously living through Gene.  Gene's athleticism is the focus of the carnival.  Since Gene can no longer participate in sports, he pushes Gene to do it for him.  Gene at first goes along out of a sense of duty, but soon begins to revel in it.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I guess you are left with Blitzball.

This scene demonstrates a couple of virtues of friendship as demonstrated by Gene and Finny.

Happening in the 3rd chapter, there is a new freshness to their relationship. Gene wants so badly to impress Finny that he is willing to deal with the fact that Finny's rules (which he is creating as he goes) mean Gene keeps getting stuck with the ball and it is every man against Gene. Gene maintains good sportsmanship though and continues to play with a positive attitude.

Finny's virtuous ability to include everyone and foster healthy competition comes through in this game he personally designed to pit everyone against each other. One admirable quality of what Finny has done here is that he gives the group an extra-curricular task through which to express their frustrations, jealousy, anger and disappointment. Perhaps this release could mean other moments during which competition could have arisen, but it won't because that uneasiness has already been dealt with.


mkcapen1 | Student

I can comment on the Headmaster's tea.  Phineas, known as Finny, is able to charm almost anyone he meets.  He shows up at the event dressed exactly as he chooses.  He is a rebel and yet he relishes the idea of the school and what it represents.

At the tea he wears his tie as a belt and is able to talk his way out of trouble.  He places honesty right back onto the tray of the elders, but they still succumb to his charm.  He is not very respectful but his charm hides his rudeness.  He is playful.

Gene is more traditional and drives to be scholarly.  His face presents more rigid but he is able to be manipulated by Finny.  However, it should be noted that he allows himself to be manipulated because he too wants to be like Finny.  Finny gets away with things that Gene can't.  He is aware of this, but he does not realize just how deep his jealousy runs at this point.

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A Separate Peace

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