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A Separate Peace Chapter 6 Summary

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In Chapter Six of 'A Separate Peace' by John Knowles, Gene must return to Devon School without Finny. Finny has always been the leader. Will Gene be able to find his place at Devon without him?

Returning to Devon

At this point in the story, Gene's roommate and best friend, Finny, is unable to return to Devon School for the Fall term. This is because of a serious injury to his leg that he sustained when Gene purposely jounced the tree limb they were standing on to make him fall. Gene has a great deal of jealousy for Finny's athletic ability and people skills and had begun to deflect his emotions on to Finny. While Gene admitted his actions, Finny didn't believe him and refused to hear it. In Chapter Six of A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Gene is back at school while Finny recuperates at his parent's house, knowing that he will never play sports again. Will their relationship ever be the same again?

Traditions Are Broken

In first chapel of the Fall semester at Devon School, Gene learns that the maid service will no longer be provided, yet another by-product of the war. A big deal is made about everyone pitching in in return for what Devon has given each of them and continuing the traditions that have long been established.

Gene ponders on the things that happened while the school was left largely unsupervised over the summer months. 'The traditions had been broken, the standards let down, all rules forgotten,' he thinks. In winter, rules are followed and enforced.

Gene stays in the same room that he had previously shared with Finny. The neighbor across the hall, Leper Lepellier, who was supposed to have jumped the day that Finny fell, has moved off to an old building and Brinker Hadley, a campus leader, moved into Lep's old room. Normally, Gene would have been drawn to Brinker as he was drawn to Finny, but today he just doesn't feel like being around him.

Assistant Senior Crew Manager

Gene makes his way down to the Crew House where he has volunteered to be the assistant senior crew manager for Quackenbush's rowing team. Quackenbush is not well-liked, and assistant senior crew manager is a position far beneath Gene's ability and rank as a senior at Devon. In essence, he has gone from being a decent athlete to being the towel boy. Is he trying to punish himself? Typically, a position like this would go to a disabled student or one who otherwise could not perform athletically. Quackenbush starts mouthing off to Gene, like he does to everyone, but he takes it one step too far. 'Listen you maimed son-of-a-bitch…,' bellows Quackenbush. At the word 'maimed', Gene loses it and throws the first punch, feeling as if he is defending Finny's honor. Gene is fired as assistant senior crew manager.

Gene volunteers to help the rowing crew instead of playing sports himself.
Rowing Crew

Run-In with the Dorm Master

On the way back to the dorm following the fight, Gene runs into his dorm master, Mr. Ludsbury. Ludsbury is not happy about the reports of gambling that he has heard took place over the summer. Disappointed that his boys took advantage of the substitute, he makes it clear that this sort of behavior will not continue. Gene remembers fondly the games Finny created and lost. Mr. Ludsbury informs Gene that he has received a long-distance phone call and passes along the number for the operator.

Phone Call from Finny

The call is from Finny, wishing him well on the first day back at school. Gene is so nervous he trips over his words, but Finny keeps it light. Finny is relieved that no one took his place as Gene's roommate. For him, this confirms that Gene's confession was just crazy talk.

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