Study Guide

A Separate Peace Friendship

By John Knowles


A Separate Peace focuses on the friendship between two sixteen-year-old boys, and it's…complicated. Friendship is a combination of admiration, respect, jealousy, and resentment. For all the camaraderie between them, these boys are still driven by good old healthy competition, which at times can end up being, well, less than healthy. Friendship blurs identity, as one boy begins to assimilate the life of the other. You know, Talented Mr. Ripley-style and all.

Questions About Friendship

  1. Do Phineas and Gene have an equal friendship, or is one boy on top? Does this question change if you're looking at their relationship 1) from Gene's point of view, 2) from Finny's point of view, 3) objectively? (Are those last two even possible in this novel?)
  2. When Finny returns to Devon in September, how has his relationship with Gene changed from the summer months?
  3. At what moment does Gene betray Finny? ("When he causes his fall from the tree" is not the only answer to this question.)
  4. What is the nature of Gene's relationship with Leper?

Chew on This

Gene and Finny form a closer, stronger friendship as the narrative progresses.

Gene and Finny are closest when the narrative begins, and move gradually apart as it progresses.