A Separate Peace Questions and Answers
by John Knowles

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In "A Separate Peace" what symbolic role does Finny's death play in the story?

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I think the best way to answer this question is to figure out what Finny's life is symbolic of. Finny is a great character, and he could symbolize so many different things. He could be symbolic of boundless youth and energy.

At dawn, all day long, and at midnight, Phineas always had a steady and formidable flow of usable energy.

He could be symbolic of innocence and purity. He could even be symbolic of what personified altruism looks like. Finny simply wants to be the best that he can be, and he wants what is best for everybody around him. It's why he doesn't understand the concept of winners and losers.

Finny never permitted himself to realize that when you won they lost.

To Finny, as long as you play the game, you are as much of a winner as anybody else. Finny is essentially a being that exists to love the world...

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