At the beginning of A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Gene returns to Devon 15 years after he graduated high school. When he visits the First Academy Building, he narrates,
In through the swinging doors I reached a marble foyer, and stopped at the foot of a long white marble flight of stairs. . . The marble must be unusually hard. . . It was surprising that I had overlooked that, that crucial fact. I had more money and success and "security" than in the days when specters seemed to go up and down them with me (11-12).
Not only do these hard marble stairs represent Gene's many days at school and his youth, but they are part of the reason his friend Phineas died in high school. It is in the First Academy Building that Brinker holds a mock trial to accuse Gene of breaking Finny's leg the first time. Phineas becomes angry because of the trial and storms...
(The entire section contains 450 words.)