What is the significance of the closing scene in A Separate Peace by John Knowles?

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Knowles closes the novel with Gene graduating from Devon and heading out to join the Air Force, serene in the knowledge that his "war" with the deceased Finny is now behind him. Contemplating the past, Gene ruminates that

I was ready for the war, now that I no longer had any hatred to contribute to it. My fury was gone, I felt it gone, dried up at the source, withered and lifeless. Phineas had absorbed it and taken it with him, and I was rid of it forever.

Gene spends the last paragraphs of the novel eulogizing Phineas for his wholeness and his lack of hatred toward anyone else. Unlike almost everyone else in the world—including, of course, Gene—Phineas didn't put up defenses or walls against other people. He was openly himself, and open to all others. As Gene states of Finny, in words that seem to echo the cadence of Nick Carraway's admiring words about Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby,

He possessed an extra vigor, a heightened confidence in himself, a serene capacity for affection...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 712 words.)

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