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A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace

by John Knowles

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Character Role Analysis

Phineas and Brinker Hadley

Just as Phineas dominates the Summer Session at Devon, so Brinker embodies all things Winter. Phineas is about fun, youth, innocence, play, and rebellion. Brinker is about rules, work, adulthood, responsibility, and the war. This is one way to look at the pair in the novel – as dichotomous opposites – but Gene's reflections at the end offer us another interpretation. When he explains the reasons behind Brinker's disillusionment with the war, he ventures that "in a way this was Finny's view, except that he saw it comically, as a huge and intensely practical joke." Now we see Brinker and Phineas in a different light, not as polar opposites, but as slightly different versions of the same thing.


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