Why does Gene apologize to Gene in A Separate Peace?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 5, Gene does not quite apologize to himself.  After he jounces the branch which causes Finny to fall and break his leg, Gene is overwhelmed with guilt and is ashamed that he let his envy control him so much that he would harm Finny. While Finny is in the hospital, Gene goes to his room and dresses in Finny's clothing.  It is as if he is trying to get rid of the envy that he feels for Finny, but he still feels awful about what he has done and considers telling Finny the truth and clearing his conscience.  He is unable to do so, however, when he visits Finny in the hospital, and even when he does "confess" to Finny at the end of the chapter, Finny makes it impossible for Gene to feel better about the situation.

At the end of the novel, there is an apology of sorts from mature Gene to his naive version who first entered Devon.  Gene realizes that he was too hard on himself and that everyone (except Finny) had been at war with himself during those days at Devon. Gene's realization that he finally found a sense of self and peace after the events of the summer and following school year demonstrates that he has forgiven himself and can now move on.