A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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Why does Brinker insist on a trial about Finny's fall in A Separate Peace?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Most of the boys at Devon school are willing to live with the mystery of what happened to Finny on that fateful day when he fell from the tree. But not Brinker. A stickler for the facts, he wants to get to the bottom of the matter. He suspects Gene had something to do with Finny's accident, and so convenes an impromptu court to try him for his alleged crime.

As previous educators have rightly pointed out, Brinker is the kind of guy who likes rules, order, and stability. It's part of his personality. And the onset of war has, if anything, made him even more appreciative of the importance of these values.

Brinker's one of those people who always likes to be in control. Yet now, in the shape of World War II, he's confronted with a cataclysmic event over which he has no control at all. Setting up the trial and effectively arresting Gene is his way, then, of getting some measure of control back into his life. There's nothing he can do about the increasingly dangerous, scary world outside...

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