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Trivia / A Separate Peace

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  • Author Avatar: John Knowles stated that although there are parts of him in every character, the one based the most on himself is Gene.
  • God Never Said That: Two similar but very popular rumors involving the confirmation of Gene and Finny's relationship as homosexual in nature count as this. The first (and more articulate) one, which was that John Knowles said Gene and Finny were romantically but not physically in love, was in fact Word of Saint Paul. The second one stated that Knowles contradicted himself years later and said that Gene and Finny actually were gay in spite of the Word of Straight he had given previously; however, this second statement is nowhere to be found, leaving Word of Straight as the last thing he ever said regarding homosexuality in the relationship of Gene and Finny.
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  • Word of Saint Paul: The aforementioned rumor about Gene and Finny being romantically but not physically in love did come from somewhere: John Heyl, who played Finny in the 1972 A Separate Peace movie, stated in an interview that this was his personal interpretation of Gene and Finny's relationship.
    John Heyl: As far as I'm concerned, Finny and Gene were in love—not physically but emotionally—and the book shows that there's nothing wrong with that.
  • Word of Straight: Although the Homoerotic Subtext undeniably exists, John Knowles stated in an interview that this was entirely unintentional and that he hadn't written Gene and Finny to be gay. It's worth noting that this doesn't necessarily mean Gene and Finny were straight, so this is somewhat ambiguous.
    John Knowles: Freud said any strong relationship between two men contains a homoerotic element. If so in this case, both characters are totally unaware of it. It would have changed everything, it wouldn't have been the same story. In that time and place, my characters would have behaved totally differently. [...] If there had been homoeroticism between Phineas and Gene, I would have put it in the book, I assure you. It simply wasn't there.
  • Write Who You Know:
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    • John Knowles based Brinker on Gore Vidal, who went to Phillips Exeter Academy with him (although he was two years his senior). Vidal was made aware of this and seemed to appreciate it, stating that he liked both Brinker and A Separate Peace itself.
    • Additionally, Knowles based Finny on David Hackett, who attended Phillips Exeter Academy's rival school (Milton Academy). He was selected for the United States Olympic hockey team in 1948 and 1952 and eventually became an American official.
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