Why is Finny associated with peace in A Separate Peace?

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Early in the novel A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, Gene, the narrator, describes Finny as the "essence of this careless peace."  The main characters of the novel are sixteen and for now safe from being drafted into a world war which is engulfing the country.  They are allowed to remain children a little longer; even the teachers are more tolerant of their antics because they know that soon these young men will be joining the ranks of soldiers.

Finny embodies this youthful innocence.  Like a child, he trusts others and is an enemy to none.  Even his famous blitzball game does not involve competition in which there are winners or losers.  In sports, Finny proclaims, everyone is a winner.  In this way, Finny does not engage in conflict.  He is a stark contrast to the narrator who is riddled with petty jealousy, engages in power struggles, and is suspicious of others.  At the end of the novel, Finny struggles to face the bitter truth that his best friend caused his fall from the tree just as Gene struggles to face the fact that Finny never would have tried to sabotage Gene's grades.  Gene honestly tells Finny that he would be no good in war because Finny would never consider anyone an enemy.  In this way he repesents peace.

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A Separate Peace

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