A Separate Peace
by John Knowles
A Separate Peace Chapter 5 Summary
- For the next few days, none of the boys are allowed near the infirmary – but there's a rumor that Finny's leg has been "shattered."
- Gene spends as much time as he can alone, trying to forget what happened "and even who [he is]." One night, while alone in their room, he dresses in Finny's clothes and stands in front of the mirror. This makes him feel better – he's become a different person (namely, Finny).
- The next morning Dr. Stanpole announces that Finny's better and he maintains the optimistic view that Finny will someday walk again.
- Whoa there. Walk again?
- Yes, that's right. Sports have been forever destroyed for Finny. Dr. Stanpole tells Gene to help his friend through this difficult time.
- Gene bursts out crying, mostly "because of kindness, which [he] had not expected."
- But when Dr. Stanpole tells him that Phineas has asked for him (for Gene), Gene sobers right up. He realizes that, though Finny hasn't yet told anyone else about the incident, he's surely waiting to accuse Gene, face-to-face, of having deliberately made him fall.
- Gene pulls himself together and enters the room. Phineas is laid up in bed with his leg suspended. Gene asks him what happened up there in the tree. "I just fell," said Finny.
- Gene is not handling this stress well. He's even afraid he might black out.
- Finny remembers looking at Gene and seeing the expression on his face – shock.
- Gene asks if Finny remembers what made him fall.
- Finny begins to venture something. He "had a feeling" about something… but then he cuts himself off and apologizes to Gene for having had that feeling at all.
- Gene realizes that Finny's a bit drugged up. He asks himself – what would Finny do in this situation? And decides that he would tell the truth. So Gene musters up the courage to tell Finny the truth.
- But before he can, Dr. Stanpole comes in and tells Gene it's time to go. Shortly after, Finny is taken by ambulance to his home outside Boston, and then the Summer Session ends.
- Gene returns to his home in the South for a month's vacation, and in September heads back to Devon. Before he returns to the school, though, he decides to stop in Boston and see Finny at his house.
- Phineas is propped up by pillows in a big armchair. He's excited to see Gene and wants to know all about his month's vacation, which Gene shares through an anecdote or two.
- Gene is still bent on telling Finny the truth, but he feels awkward in this environment. Still, he ends up blurting it out, saying he "caused" Finny's "accident."
- Finny gets raging mad. He threatens to hit Gene and then tells him, wearily, to leave. He doesn't want to hear it and doesn't believe it.
- Gene realizes that all he's done is hurt Finny again. He confirms that Phineas will come back to Devon in a few weeks, says that he's not making much sense, and leaves.
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