A Contrast Between Finny and Brinker in a Separate Peace, a Novel by John Knowles

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

In the book “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles, two of the characters extremely contrast each other. Phineas is a mischievous and vibrant person who brings other characters together for sports and other adventurous experiences. He was known as the leader of the summer session, forming clubs and inventing sports for all to play. Finny’s reign ends, however, when he breaks his leg, symbolically ending the summer. Brinker Hadley, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of him. He is more conservative, devoted to rules, and constantly suspicious of others. Brinker is seen as the leader of the winter session, when the war draws closer than ever, and discipline is restored at Devon. Finny and Brinker represent the summer and winter sessions of Devon.

One of the main characters, Finny, represents the summer session at Devon. He is carefree, and doesn’t follow rules. During the summer session at Devon there is a substitute headmaster, who is more lenient about the rules and policies of the boarding school. It is a time that represents the innocence of the boys, before the war. As said by Gene in Chapter 2, “I think we reminded them of what peace was like, we boys of sixteen…We were careless and wild, and I suppose we could be thought of as a sign of the life the war was being fought to preserve….Phineas was the essence of this careless peace.” (Knowles #). Finny is known by others to be carefree and calm. He doesn’t seem to worry about anything in the future, while others are worrying about the upcoming war. But once Finny falls out of the tree at the end of the summer, this innocence and careless way of life meets its end, welcoming the start of the winter session.

One of the other characters, Brinker Hadley, represents the winter session at Devon. He is, and constantly follow the rules. During the winter session at Devon the true headmaster, who is serious and strict about the rules. It is a time that represents the incoming World War II, and the boys of Devon being faced with the real world. As said by Gene in Chapter 6, “Across the hall…where Leper Lepellier had dreamed his way through July and August amid sunshine and dust motes and windows through which the ivy had reached tentatively into the room, here Brinker Hadley had established his headquarters. Emissaries were already dropping in to confer with him.” The people around Brinker see him as a tough hard person, similar to a drill sergeant. Though it was said jokingly, Gene is subconsciously realizing the war is drawing closer to Devon.

In the book “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles, Brinker and Finny extremely contrast each other. Finny is more childlike and carefree, and is the leader of the summer session of Devon. But when Finny falls out of the tree, the summer ends as does the carefree attitude of the students. Brinker, however, is the opposite. He is a stickler for the rules and arrogant. Brinker is seen as the leader of the winter session, while the school becomes affected by the upcoming war. Finny and Brinker represent the summer and winter sessions of Devon.

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