What roles(s) does freedom play in the novel, A Separate Peace, and who is free?
The war looms as a definite future for all the boys at Devon. For this reason, freedom becomes a relative concept.
In the summer session with one more year of school ahead of them, the boys play and enjoy a specific kind of freedom. They will not be going to the war immediately, but have one year to buffer them from this certain fate. Also, the rules at Devon are somewhat relaxed for the summer session.
"We registered with no draft board, we had taken no physical examinations We were carefree and wild, and I suppose we could be thought of as a sign of the life the war was being fought to preserve."
As the next school year wears on, however, the war becomes closer and closer to being a reality for the boys. To escape this fact, Leper enlists and Finny pretends not to believe in the war. These escapes, as freedom, are illusory.
Though Finny is "free" not from expectations of service because of his injury, he is not free from a sense of failure. He wishes he could go to serve and do his duty but is physically unable. Even in his exemption, Finny is not "free" in a sense of liberation.