A Separate Peace Chapters 3 and 4 Summary

     In chapter three Gene is still feeling grateful to Finny for saving his life on the tree even though he realizes that he wouldn't have even been on that limb if it weren't for Finny. Finny spread the word about the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session, and others became interested. They met every night to initiate more people with the charter members, Finny and Gene, always jumping off the limb first. Finny was particular about rules: clubs met regularly, be honest about your height, always say your prayers at night in case there is a God. His most prized motto though was "you always win at sports" with "you" referring to everyone. The boys had been playing badminton that summer, which disappointed Finny. One day he found a medicine ball outside and invented the game of blitzball. He wanted the game to have something to do with the war, like a blitzkrieg, so he threw the huge ball at Gene and ordered him to run toward the river. He told Gene to pass it to someone else or they would be forced to knock him down. Chet Douglass then grabbed Gene's legs and pulled him down, which Finny declared to be illegal. Arms can't be used to knock down the ball carrier. He would continue to make up the rules as the boys tried to follow along. When Leper refused to play, Finny stated that was acceptable as it was a Lepellier Refusal, all part of the game. Blitzball became hugely popular that summer. Gene could see that the game suited Finny's talents perfectly, which made sense since he created it.

     One day while they were swimming, Finny noticed that A. Hopkins Parker set the record for the 100 yard freestyle in 1940 at 53 seconds. Finny couldn't believe that the record had stood several years without being broken, so he decided to break it. Gene timed him and Finny broke the record by .7 seconds, which shocked Gene. Gene was disappointed that since it wasn't official, it wouldn't count, but Finny didn't care. He just wanted to see if he could do it, not try to make the official wall or anything. Gene didn't understand Finny. Was he trying to impress him? Why didn't Finny want Gene to tell anyone about it? Finny told Gene they should go to the beach where they could do some real swimming; however the beach was hours away by bicycle and completely forbidden. Nevertheless, Gene agreed, and they went. They dove in and rode the waves. They had dinner at a hot dog stand and walked along the Boardwalk. Then they each had a glass of beer at a bar where they convinced the bartender to serve them with forged draft cards. Finny thanked Gene for joining him on this risky endeavor by telling him that he was his best pal, which Gene found very brave. Gene couldn't summon the courage to say the same back to Finny.

     Chapter four begins with Gene waking up next to the ocean. Finny woke up and wanted to take a short swim before they left even though Gene needed to be in math class in three hours. They couldn't find their remaining seventy-five cents, so they had to ride back without breakfast. Gene returned just in time to flunk his test, which was the first test he had ever failed. Gene followed that with a game of blitzball and then a Super Suicide Society meeting. He went back to his dorm to try to do some homework, and Finny told him that he works too hard. Finny called him out for wanting to be valedictorian, but Gene wouldn't admit to it. Gene asked Finny if he'd mind if he was head of the class, and Finny responded that he'd die of envy. Gene began to wonder if Finny was deliberating sabotaging his grades so that Gene wouldn't be number one. Finny was always number one in everything, and maybe he really couldn't stand to see Gene succeed. Gene decided to work harder to spite Finny, but he noticed Phineas was increasing his bouts of studying too.

     The day before a big French test, Gene was attempting to study when Finny announced that Leper would be jumping from the tree that night, so they had to go. Gene knew that Leper would never leap from the tree, so he started to accuse Finny of keeping him from it. Finny insisted that Gene stay home and study if he thought it was that important. Gene decided that he had studied enough and went with Finny. Finny brought Gene to the tree and announced that they would be doing a double jump. Holding onto the tree, Gene took a step forward and bounced the limb. Finny lost his balance and swung around to look at Gene before breaking through the branches landing on the bank with a thud. Gene then jumped off the branch without any fear and landed in the river.

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