Why does Finny change his mind about enlisting in A Separate Peace?What obstacles does Finny have to overcome?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because of his injury, Finny no longer can enlist; he is no longer physically capable of doing so, nor will he ever be. Although he acts nonchalant, this reality is a source of deep bewilderment to him. Finny has always been a leader, and under ordinary circumstances, would have been the first to join up and be a part of the war effort. He was hurt so badly falling from the tree, however, that the doctor proclaimed him lucky to even walk again. He is definitely unfit now for military duty.

When Finny first comes back to school, he is in a heavy cast, and must hobble about on crutches. He needs Gene to help him in almost everything, and surprisingly seems quite willing to accept this needed aid, despite his previous independence. although Finny obviously has many physical obstacles to overcome, the emotional problems he will have to reconcile are even more daunting.

It is unquestionably difficult for Finny, who has always been a star athlete, to accept the fact that he can no longer compete in sports, but it is even harder for him to be left out while his entire generation enthusiastically rises to do their part in defending their country. For the first time, Finny, who is always upbeat and in control, experiences a deep sense of bitterness, which, to Gene's and his own surprise, is expressed when he answers Gene's question as to why he shoud be so special with the angry statement, "Because I've suffered." Being left behind is more than even Finny can handle, and in order to make it less hurtful to himself, he denies the reality of the war, insisting that all the hoopla is a joke made up by "the fat old men" who run the countries, and that soon everyone will see the "truth," and things will go on like they were before (Chapter 8).

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A Separate Peace

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