A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, why does Gene keep out of the way when Phil Latham wraps the blanket around Finny?

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Phil Latham wraps a blanket around Phineas because he has just tumbled down some stairs in the Assembly Hall corridor. The boys were putting on a mock trial about the day Phineas broke his leg falling out of the tree. Tensions were getting high as Leper appeared, and being the only other witness to the event, he would have been able to say whether or not for sure Gene had jounced Finny out of the tree on purpose. Phineas must not have wanted to hear or face the truth so he scrambled quickly out of the room with his cane. The end of chapter 11 says that the boys could hear "his body falling clumsily down the white marble stairs"(177).

Chapter 12 then opens with the boys deciding to call the wrestling coach over to help with first aid and Brinker telling Gene to go find a blanket. Gene's explanation for not attempting to wrap his best friend in the blanket himself is as follows:

"I would have liked very much to have done that myself; it would have meant a lot to me. But Phineas might begin to curse me with every word he knew, he might lose his head completely, he would certainly be worse off for it. So I kept out of the way"(179).

Basically Gene thought that would either get yelled at or cause more harm if he wrapped Finny up in the blanket. It's interesting to note that in another incident involving an injury to Phineas, Gene again is mostly thinking of himself.

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