Study Guide

A Separate Peace Chapter 13

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Chapter 13

  • In early June, Gene stands at his dorm window overlooking "the Far Common," a quadrangle now being taken over, in a sense, by the war. Jeeps roll in, accompanied by troops of soldiers.
  • Brinker, watching alongside Gene, brings up Leper, but Gene doesn't want to talk about it. Leper never talked about Phineas either, the narrator tells us.
  • While Gene watches a greeting ceremony of sorts taking place in the Far Common, he feels that peace has again settled over Devon, and that all these Jeeps and troops are useless in the setting.
  • But maybe, he wonders, such a state of peace exists for only a few of the remaining members of the band of boys from the previous Summer Session. Or maybe not even Leper and Chet Douglass have it now; maybe it's there only for himself and for Phineas.
  • Brinker announces that his father has arrived and brings Gene to meet him.
  • Mr. Hadley turns out to be one of those robust old men who Finny always thought was orchestrating a fictional war to keep the country in check. He's all about the military, and lectures for a bit on the value of fighting for one's country.
  • Once Mr. Hadley leaves, Brinker apologizes to Gene for his father's insistent exuberance. When Gene tries to rationalize the old man's behavior, Brinker gets heated. Men like him are responsible for the war, he says, and yet boys like Leper and Brinker himself are going to have to fight it for them.
  • This makes everything clear for Gene, who finally understands that this is why Brinker suffered such disillusionment during the Winter Session and why he turned from leader to rebel so quickly. It was the same thing Finny felt when he said the war was fake.
  • Gene himself, though, doesn't agree with Finny or Brinker. War wasn't the fault of the older generation. It was the same thing Finny felt when he said the war was fake.
  • Gene himself, though, doesn't agree with Finny or Brinker. War wasn't the fault of the older generation – war is the result of "something ignorant in the human heart."
  • The boys part ways, and Gene heads to the gym to clean out his locker. He thinks some more of Finny. He could never talk about him with anyone else because Finny wasn't fully dead; he had a vitality that lived on. His way of seeing the world captivated Gene, who to this day still lives according to it.
  • What made Phineas so different, Gene says, is that he lacked the enmity that can be found in everyone else. We all identify an enemy, pit ourselves against something – except Finny.
  • Gene now feels that his schooling is over, that he's ready for the war since he no longer has any hatred. Phineas, he explained, took away his fury.
  • During the war, explains the narrator, he never killed anybody, and he never even hated the enemy. It was at Devon, rather, that he killed his enemy.
  • Again he iterates the notion that Phineas was different from us all for having lacked any hostility or fear. Everyone else thought they saw their enemy across the lines from them, except, explains Gene, the enemy never attacks that way, and might not even be the enemy at all.

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