Gene states that the two places he wants to see at Devon School were "fearful sights". Why does he use this term? What is fearful about marble stairs? About a tree? If they are "fearful," why do you think Gene wants to see them?
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Both the tree and the staircase hold memories for Gene that aren't espacialy good one. The tree is the place where Phineas fell and injured himself....... Gene wobbled the branch, and the after-affects stayed with him for life. The staircase was the place that Gene was held accountable by his peers...... the place where Finny learned the truth he already knew. These two places were the very locations that Gene needed to see to come to terms with his past.
A Separate Peace