What are some examples of innocence that Finny shows in A Separate Peace?

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lusie0520 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One example of innocence Finny shows is his belief that everyone likes him and is a friend to him.  At the beginning of the novel, he befriends Gene as easily as he breathes, and he genuinely likes Gene.  His assumption is, then, that Gene feels the same about him.  He has no idea at all that Gene, on the inside, sometimes hates him.  When Finny goes off on adventures, he wants Gene with him, and it does not even occur to him that Gene would not want to go.

““I hope you’re having a pretty good time here. I know I kind of dragged you away at the point of a gun, but after all you can’t come to the shore with just anybody and you can’t come by yourself, and at this teen-age period in life the proper person is your best pal.”

He hesitated and then added, “which is what you are,” and there was silence on his dune.” Finny’s fondness for Gene is real, as is his inability to believe Gene would do anything to hurt him.

Another example of Finny’s innocence comes at the end of the novel before the second accident.   When Brinker drags the boys in for the “trial,”  Finny can sense that it is going to end badly, but he answers the questions.  However, the answers he gives show that he does not want to believe Gene might have done this, and that, in fact, he has been denying the idea for a long time. 

“This touched an interesting point Phineas had been turning over in his mind for a long time. I could tell that because the obstinate, competitive look left his face as his mind became engaged for the first time. “It’s very funny,” he said, “but ever since then I’ve had a feeling that the tree did it by itself. It’s an impression I’ve had. Almost as though the tree shook me out by itself.”

“He cannot blame Gene, so he blames the tree instead.  Just as he denies the war, he denies that anything could ever be wrong in his “best pal” relationship with Gene.

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A Separate Peace

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