How does Gene feel about competition?

Gene appears to see competition as something inevitable and wants to beat out his competitors in any given situation just for the sake of winning. For example, he focuses on excelling academically not because he loves learning, but because he believes he has a chance of being named top student. It is Gene’s competitive mindset that leads him to believe the ulterior motive of sabotage must lurk behind Finny pulling him into mischief. Only when Gene sees Finny’s shock does he realize that Finny had no intention of competing with him.

What is the “separate peace” the title mentions?

The separate peace mentioned refers to the bubble of peacetime the boys at Devon can create over the summer session, and that Finny tries to perpetuate into the winter. Gene describes this phenomenon in Chapter 9, during the winter carnival as “the escape we had concocted, this afternoon of momentary, illusory, special and separate peace.” While everything at Devon is about turning them toward the war effort, Finny’s winter carnival turns the boys to fun and play, childish pursuits heedless of real world responsibilities and consequences.

What happens to Leper?

Leper enlists in the army after watching a reel advertising the ski corps. However, sensitive, timid Leper is thoroughly unprepared for the harsh conditions of army life. He cannot handle the food, sleeping in a room with other young men, or the imminent promise of violence. As he begins to hallucinate, he eventually deserts the army and runs home. He knows that staying would end in him receiving a section 8 discharge for poor mental health, a stigma that would follow him for the rest of his life.

Why does Brinker insist on revealing the truth of Finny’s fall?

Brinker reveals the truth of Finny’s fall in order to break up Gene and Finny’s codependency. He recognizes that Gene refuses to enlist because he does not want to leave Finny. He also believes that Finny’s unwillingness to recognize the reality of his disability, the war, and Gene’s moment of betrayal will only hurt him long term. Gene earlier states that Brinker doesn’t like to do things alone, and so we can read Brinker’s behavior here as an attempt to force Gene to enlist with him, as they had earlier planned. Alternately, Gene describes Brinker as an enforcer of rules and conformity. By breaking up Gene and Finny’s codependent, arrested boyhood friendship, Brinker reinforces the reality that they are growing up and must separate.

How does Finny die?

After Finny breaks his leg a second time falling down the stairs, he dies in the middle of Dr. Stanpole’s procedure to reset the bone. According to Dr. Stanpole, a piece of bone marrow slips into his bloodstream and travels to his heart, killing him instantly. As Finny dies not long after he’s forced to confront the truth of Gene’s treachery, it’s possible to read him as unable to survive an adult understanding of the world that includes enemies and competition.