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"A Separate Peace" By John Knowles

6606 words - 26 pages

CHAPTER 1SummaryThe narrator of the story, Gene Forrester returns to Devon, a school in New Hampshire that he attended fifteen years earlier. Gene walks around the school's campus, everything seems new and shiny with a fresh coat of varnish as if it is on display. The campus looks the same as when Gene was there fifteen years earlier, it is almost frozen in time. Gene has come back to the school to visit a couple of places that he is fearful of. It is early afternoon in November, the grounds are deserted, and everyone is at sports. Gene wanders his way across a large yard called the Far Common and up to the First Academy Building. He stops at the foot of a long white marble flight of stairs. The steps seem to be very hard, even after all these years they have only worn slightly. After staring at the steps for awhile he heads back outside and trudges across the athletic field. The wet snow and wind don't seem to bother him. He knows where he is going and nothing will stop that. As he approaches the river he searches for a particular tree, now they all look the same though. He eventually spots the tree that he is looking for; he recognizes it for the small scars on its trunk and the one branch that sticks out over the river. The tree, unlike the building has changed over the years. The tree now appeared weary from age, enfeeble and dry. Gene then turns back in the direction he came from and thinks "the more things remain the same, the more they change." He then heads inside to get away from the rain.This is when the story changes into a memory of his days at Devon School when Gene was only fifteen years old. He is standing at the foot of the very same tree with his best friend Phineas (Finny) and some other boys from the Upper Middle class. Finny has a crazy idea that they should all climb the tree and jump off of the limb into the river. The other boys refuse, so Finny climbs the tree and leaps from the branch into the river. He comes up out of the water exclaiming how much fun it is and that they should all try it. Finny was the first Upper Middler to ever jump from the tree; the older boys did as a part of their training prior to graduation. Finny then coaxes Gene into climbing the tree. Gene unwillingly climbs the tree and prepares to jump, while standing on the limb he questions why it is he is even up there and if it wasn't for Finny he would still be safely on the ground. Gene then fearfully jumps into the water. Finny congratulates Gene when he gets out of the river and attempts to get the other boys to follow. They refuse to jump and Finny is proud that he and Gene are the only ones to do so.As they walk back to school Phineas teases Gene for walking so fast and wanting to be on time for supper. Gene tackles Finny to the ground and they wrestle. The other boys insist that they hurry up but Gene and Phineas ignore them and continue wrestling on the grass. They finally get up and continue on their way for supper. They have missed supper and...

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