Illustration of two pairs of legs standing on the branch of a large tree

A Separate Peace

by John Knowles
Start Free Trial

What are the four main characters in A Separate Peace by John Knowles? Are they static or dynamic characters (Static meaning they change little through the book and dynamic meaning that they change a lot during the book)?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Gene and Finny are the main characters.  Gene is sensitive and smart, but he is eaten up by guilt for causing Finny to fall.  Brinker believed that Gene shook the branch on purpose, and Gene believed that he had done so as well, but Finny refused to believe him.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are really just three central characters in A Separate Peace- Gene, Finny (Phineas), and Brinker. Leper is an important character too, but far less important than the other three.

Gene is the only truly dynamic character in the novel, which is part of the thematic thrust of the novel. One of the greatest virtues of this novel is the structural simplicity regarding its characters.

Finny represents one way of being. He is young and more-or-less innocent, associated with sports and play. 

Brinker pushes forward into adulthood, serious and organized. 

Gene stands at a cross-roads, faced with the dilemma of choosing which role model to follow. 

In the end, he realizes he does not have to follow the paths defined by either Finny or Brinker. He can choose his own path. This realization is, arguably, Gene's biggest change. Additionally, he comes to forgive himself for what he did to Finny and in doing so finds maturity.

refer to eNotes:

A Separate Peace

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team