From the onset of the novel A Separate Peace, Knowles characterizes Finny as a charasmatic young man that the other boys admire and follow. Even Gene finds himself enthralled:
"What was I doing up here anyway? Why did I let Finny talk me into stupid things like this? Was he getting some kind of hold over me?" (Chapter 1).
Gene constantly finds himself in an inner struggle, fighting his natural urge to follow Finny against his own notions of 'being his own man.' Gene does not want Finny to think that he has too much control over him. Finny, however, with his athleticism and charm, is a natural leader among all the other boys, who willingly follow his madcap ideas and play his silly games. His natural goodness and affable nature charms both students and teachers alike at Devon.