The book, A Separate Peace was written by John Knowles. It was first published in 1959. It tells the story Gene Forrester, a former student at a prep school in New Hampshire, who returns to the school after he graduates. While he is there, He remembers the summer of 1942. When he walks up to a tree by the river, he remembers his friend and roommate Phineas. Phineas was the best athlete in the entire school. From then on the story moves back to 1942 at the school named Devon. Phineas’ athleticism inspires Gene to become one of the smartest kids in the school.
He starts to do well in school until he failed a test because of a trip to the beach with Phineas. When this happens, he blames Phineas for him failing. He begins to get angry with Phineas and tries to stay focused until one day when Phineas persuades Gene to go and jump from a tree into the river. Gene thinks this is just another attempt to pull him from his studies so when he and Phineas are standing on the tree limb, Gene Jounces the limb to cause Phineas to lose his balance and fall to the river bank. Phineas shatters his leg and this accident cost him his athletic career.
Gene felt guilty about the incident and tries to confess to Phineas. Phineas refused to believe what happened and continued to think that it was just an accident. Once Phineas returns to the school, he convinced Gene to train for the 1944 Olympics. Gene tried to explain that this would be impossible with World War II going on so Phineas persuaded him to believe that the war is fake. Gene accepted his explanation and began to train for the Olympics. Then one day, Brinker Hadley brings the boys and some of their friends together for a mock trial to accuse Gene for being responsible for the accident.
When another boy shares his view of the story saying that he saw Gene Jounce the limb, Phineas leaves the room in anger. While walking down the stairs, he fell and broke his leg again. While talking to Phineas in the hospital, Gene insists that he didn’t mean to hurt him. Phineas accepts his apology and they remain friends. The next day in surgery, marrow from Phineas’ leg leaked into his blood stream making its way to his heart and killing him. Gene looked back after the war and realized that his real enemy was his own jealousy of Phineas.