A Separate Peace

How does Gene try to relieve his feelings of guilt about Phineas' accident?

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Gene goes into the infirmary to see Finny; Gene immediately reacts out of guilt for what happened, asking how the fall could happen, and Finny notes how shocked Gene seems at the whole thing, as if it were Gene that fell.

When Gene tells Finny that he isn't participating in sports, as a sort of show of sympathy with Finny, Finny gets upset; he tells Gene that Gene has to participate for him since he no longer can, and Gene decides to grant Finny this request.

When Finny returns to school, Gene helps Finny make up his bed, since there are no maids at the school that year, and notes how Finny is completely dignified and doesn't seem helpless in any way, although he does need Gene's assistance for some things.

Gene is happy that Finny is finally back; however, he can't simply ignore what he did to his friend since Finny is there as a constant reminder, and Gene lets himself be eaten away by his guilt and remorse, rather than try to face his feelings.

Finny decides not to go to class on his first day back; Gene is a little dismayed by his suggestion that neither go to class, but he goes with Finny anyway, to the gym. Finny asks Gene what sports he's been doing, and Gene confesses that he hasn't held up his end of the bargain, and is not doing any sports at the moment. This gets Finny upset, and then Gene tries to make the war into some excuse for not trying out for anything. Finny goes off on a rant about how the war is not real, it was just designed to keep people in their place, and from having any real fun. Gene doesn't believe him at all, and asks him why Finny thinks he knows all this stuff that nobody else does; Finny then says "because I've suffered," opening another big, painful can of worms (109).

Gene takes this as a cue to start working out, doing more chin-ups than he's done in his lifetime.