A Separate Peace

why must gene, against his better judgement, jump from the tree? how does this and his later "wrestling match" wiht finny affect their relationship? what does this tell you about the personalities of the two?

chapter one

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In these first chapters, Gene is sure to set up a good, thorough characterization of Finny from the minimal events described. From the tree-jumping incident alone, we learn that Finny is a daredevil, able to wrangle others into doing things, and a bit of a devil-may-care kind of guy. Gene shows his weakness for Finny on page nine, with the tree incident illustrating perfectly how great Finny's hold on Gene is and what kinds of things Finny can persuade him to do. Finny and Gene are kindred spirits, but are also foils to each other; Finny's daredevil, rule-breaking attitude contrasts nicely with Gene's rule-abiding conservatism, and though the two are good friends, they are very different kinds of people. Gene breaks into his "West Point stride" when he is late for dinner, while Finny horses around and goes even slower; Finny is the one who gets himself into and out of trouble so easily, while Gene sits and watches it happen. The push-pull between them is already a major issue in the book in Chapter 1; and the differences, and compatibilities, between Gene and Finny, will continue to be a crucial theme within the rest of the work as well.