Dr. Hawley Crippen, a well respected professional living in a suburban lifestyle, was hanged in 1910 for supposedly poisoning and dismembering his wife. It wasn't until 2008, nearly a century later, that his innocence was proved with a DNA test. Our novel contains a very similar incident regarding the death of Phineas. In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Gene is thought to be the primary factor behind Finny's death. However, in closer examination Gene's innocence manifests itself in the finding that Brinker is his actual murderer.
Finny's falling from the tree has nothing to do with his actual death; it is the emotional trauma he suffers through afterwards that kills him. After the crash, feelings between him and Gene are still fine. "Friendliness, simple outgoing affection, that was all I could hear in his voice" (Knowles 83). This quote is taken from Gene remarking on how Phineas sounds the first time they spoke since he tried to tell him that he intentionally jounced the limb. Their friendship is still strong with the knowledge that Gene wished it had not happened. Not only is Finny emotionally fine, but he can even participate in many physical activities. "We ended the fight in the only way possible; all of us turned on Phineas" (Knowles 155). In this scene, not only is Finny participating in a snowball fight, he is the best player. Over time his injury gets better and better, and he could potentially get more used to it and learn to live with it. This evidence clearly shows that Gene's contribution, jouncing the limb of the tree, has nothing to do with Finny's actual death. The actual murder is brought upon him later by Brinker.
Everything is fine in the world of Phineas and Gene until Brinker comes into the picture and accuses Gene of attempting first degree man slaughter. To elaborate, Brinker kills Phineas by convincing him that his best and closest friend actually tried to cripple him for life. This is certainly not the case. Gene was bawling the day he became aware that his best friend could never play sports...