Explain the Finny's realization on the night of the second accident in A Separate Peace.

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Because Phineas becomes upset as Brinker cross-examines Leper about the night in which Gene and Finny are in the tree, he gets up and declares, "I don't care...."  Gene rushes to him, but Phineas looks at Gene, his face a mask:  "I just don't care.  Never mind."  Still, Brinker insists that all the facts be known.  This insistence "shocked Phineas into an awarenessness' that upsets him terribly and he rushes out.  Gene narrates that the excellent acoustics recorded

these separate sounds collided into the general tumult of his body falling clumsily down the white marble stairs.

While everyone acts with composure, Gene stays out of the way because Phineas might curse him: "he might lose his head completely, he would certainly be worse off for it. "  With Finny  being wrapped tightly in the blanket, Gene "stood on the lower edge."  Behind him is the now-empty foyer.  As a chair is brought in for Finny,to Gene he seems a "stricken pontiff," and Gene has the "desolating sense of having all along ignored what was finest in him."  But, instead of carrying the chair, consoling him by whispering in his ear as Phineas thought of Gene as an extension of himself, Gene walks alone with Finny's suitcase to the infirmary.

After the ambulance takes Phineas away, Gene is told by Mr. Ludsburry to go to the dormitory.  Once away, he stands under the room where Finny is with Dr. Latham.  As he hears their voices, Gene becomes erratic in his thinking; somehow the situation strikes him as so funny that he has to bite his hand to prevent his laughter from being heard.  Finally, Dr. Stappleton leaves and Gene climbs in the window, but Finny struggles "to unleash his hate against" Gene:

"You want to break something else in me!" Finny shouts at him.

Gene declares his regret, but has enough control to let  Phineas struggle back into the bed, and just slide down from the window. On this night, Gene has some rather odd sensations:  For instance, he senses  meaning in the old trees, trees that possess a message both in the ones who are present from the beginning as well as the newest sprouts.   Gene feels that Phineas is in the infirmary while he responsible; Gene feels "alone in a dream" that has occurred once before.

I felt that i was not, never had been and never would be a living part of this overpoweringly solid and deeply menaingful world around me. 

Now, Gene feels responsible for Phineas's being in the infirmary, and he senses that the "air around us was filled with much worse things."  There is an alienation to Gene Forrester.

 

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