A Separate Peace
Rules and Order Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"We'd better hurry or we'll be late for dinner," I said, breaking into what Finny called my "West Point stride." Phineas didn't really dislike West Point in particular or authority in general, but just considered authority the necessary evil against which happiness was achieved by reaction, the backboard which returned all the insults he threw at it (1.46).
Right away, Gene paints a portrait of Finny that pits him against the authority that will later take over in the Winter Session at Devon. But the fight is a friendly, sporting one – that's how Finny competes.
The Devon faculty had never before experienced a student who combined a calm ignorance of the rules with a winning urge to be good, who seemed to love the school truly and deeply, and never more than when he was breaking the regulations […]. The faculty threw up its hands over Phineas, and so loosened its grip on all of us (2.8).
When Phineas leaves Devon, then, it follows that the masters can again tighten their grip. Which they do.
We met every night, because Finny's life was ruled by inspiration and anarchy, and so he prized a set of rules. His own, not those imposed on him by other people, such as the faculty of the Devon school. […] We met every night. Nothing could be more regular than that. To meet once a week seemed to him much less regular, entirely too haphazard, bordering on carelessness (3.4).
Finny's own "set of rules" comes to increasingly govern Gene's outlook and behavior as the novel continues. Even after Finny's death, Gene continues to live by these principles.