A Separate Peace
How we cite our quotes:
What was I doing up here anyway? Why did I let Finny talk me into stupid things like this? Was he getting some kind of hold over me? (1.32).
The notion of equality is important to Gene when he considers his friendship with Finny. Much of his hesitation over jumping has less to do with a fear of dying than a fear of subordination, of blindly following Finny's desires.
"It's you, pal," Finny said to me at last, "just you and me." He and I started back across the fields, preceding the others like two seigneurs.
We were the best of friends at that moment (1.38-9).
From the start, Gene's friendship with Finny isolates them from others.
I threw my hip against his, catching him by surprise, and he was instantly down, definitely pleased. This was why he liked me so much. When I jumped on top of him, my knees on his chest, he couldn't ask for anything better. We struggled in some equality for a while, and then when we were sure we were too late for dinner, we broke off (1.46).
Gene will later remark that few scenarios at Devon are not governed by rivalry. This, then, is how he conceives of his friendship with Finny. Wrestling together is a reflection of this healthy sense of competition, on which, as far as Gene knows, their friendship is based. This is why he feels so confused later, when he realizes Finny isn't concerned with competition between them.