Tree of Change Nate Porter, Cal RYan

Chapter 1: Back to School

Photo representation of Devon School in New Hampshire, where Gene and Finny attend

Diary entry (Gene): I returned to Devon. There have been very little changes to the school since I left it in 1945. I have never felt so much fear at the school as I did today. With New Hampshire's normal weather being rainy and dreary; today was no exception. I am so much bigger now than when I was attending this school. I am towering over objects that used to be much bigger than me. The marble staircase at the entrance of the school was relatively unchanged which came as a shock to me, given their old age. I later returned to the place at Devon that I came to see. This place that I speak of was the tree. So much time spent on and around one tree. It was the center of many friendships, fights, and other occurrences. I began to remember some things that happened back at Devon. I was back with my friends at Devon. We were contemplating whether or not to jump from the tree. The tree was huge. It towered over all of us. My friend Finny jumped and because I didn't want to be outdone by him, I jumped too. We landed in the water and laughed at the other boys who were too chicken to jump. Finny and me grew much closer because of the jump.

Important Quote: "'You were very good', said Finny good humoredly, 'once I shamed you into it'. 'You didn't shame me into anything.' 'Oh yes I did. I'm good for you that way. You have a tendency to back away from things otherwise"(Knowles 18).

Chapter 2: Forming a Club

Journal Entry: Gene and I got in trouble. We missed dinner last night and Prud'homme yelled at us for a long time. Unlike Gene, I was able to get out of the punishment. I can usually get out of punishment with my charming character. I just explained to the teacher that we spent the day jumping into the river and just simply enjoying the beautiful outdoors. I decided to wear a pink shirt once we got home. My reasoning was to celebrate the bombing of Central Europe for the first time by the US. Gene made fun of me but I don't mind. I don't really care what others think of me. We later went to Mr. Patch-Withers for tea, and it was very boring. I had never been so bored in my life. It took Mrs. Patch-Whithers a while to realize that I didn't have a belt and instead was using my tie as one. I thought I might get in trouble, but instead I was able to talk my way out of it. After tea, the whole crew of boys headed to the tree. Gene and me decided to jump off at the same time in order to solidify our friendship. Gene began to lose his balance, but I reached out to keep him from falling. We proceeded to jump and our friendship grew stronger. We had just created the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session.

Quote: "I was beginning to see that Phineas could get away with anything. I couldn't help envying him that a little, which was perfectly normal. There was no harm in envying even your best friend a little"(Knowles 25).

Caption: Live representation of the boys jumping from the tree into water during a meeting at the Suicide Society.

Chapter 3: Olympian

Journal Entry: A few more kids were inducted into the SSSSS, and everyone grew closer. Every day Gene and me jump together. He is really turning into my best friend. There is an extreme lack of sports at Devon. There are things like badminton and chess, which are the opposite of what I want to do. That's why today, I came up with blitzball. There really aren't any strict rules. Basically someone has a ball and all of the other boys try to tackle the ballcarrier. That's basically it. No teams, no points, just lots of running, tackling and dodging; everything that I'm good at. One day I decided to break the school 100 meter swim record. On my first try I beat it by .7 seconds. Gene tried to tell everyone about it but I forced him to stay quiet about it. I don't want people thinking any differently about me, because swimming is stupid. After I swam, I convinced Gene to accompany me to the beach. We rode our bikes all the way there and had a great time. I told Gene that he was my best friend, but he didn't respond. I wonder why? Anyways we had a whole lot of fun and o can't wait until we do it again.

Quote: "It was a courageous thing to say. Exposing a sincere emotion nakedly like that at the Devon school was the next thing to suicide. I should have told him then that he was my best friend also and rounded off what he had said. I started to; I nearly did. But something held me back. Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth. Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth"(Knowles 48).

Gene and Finny enjoying a nice game of Blitzball, created by Finny for the super suicide society of the summer session to play.

Chapter 4: The Fall

Diary (Gene): After the night on the beach, I had to get home quick to get ready for my trigonometry test. I thoroughly enjoy school and hope to soon be validictorian of the class. After telling Finny this, he began making fun of me, and saying that school is not so important. It was at this moment when I knew, there was a jealous rivalry between us two and Finny was envious of my skills and passion at school. Just because Finny is a good athlete he thinks he can throw me off my school game so he looks better than me. I wasn't going to let this happen. Later on, Finny came and invited me to go to the tree for Lepers initiation into the Super Suicide Society. I was studying, but decided I could go anyway. Finny and I were back to normal and forgot about our little rivalry, we decided to jump off the tree together. When we got up there, I lost balance and the tree limb had a massive shake, and off went Finny smashing into the ground. I wondered how bad he was hurt, but jumped into the water to make sure I was okay.

Quote: "Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb" (Knowles 60).

This picture depicts Finny (pink shirt) falling from the tree as Gene blissfully jumps off into the water in the final moments of the chapter

Chapter 5: Grief

Diary Entry(Finny): I had been resting in the infirmary all night, and in the morning, Gene came to visit me. I was really excited to see Gene in person. When he came into my room, he instantly started asking all kinds of questions about the fall. I didn't really remember much, besides somehow I lost my balance and fell off. I remembered that I tried to reach for Gene to stop me from falling, but I could not reach. Gene seemed upset at me for trying to grab on to him, as I could've pulled him down with me. However, I was just trying to do anything to stop me from getting hurt badly. I started to believe that Gene could've been the reason I fell. He was the only one around and atop the tree with me. He could've tried to save me but didn't. Then again, I quickly shredded that conspiracy as Gene is my friend, and would never do something like that to harm me. I told Gene that he should go back to following the old rules at Devon so he doesn't get in any trouble, but I wonder if he will listen.

Quote: "My own voice sounded quiet and foreign. 'I jounced the limb. I caused it.' One more sentence. 'I deliberately jounced the limb so you would fall off'" (Knowles 70).

The picture shows Finny in the hospital bed after his fall from the tree, talking to Gene how the accident was caused.

Chapter 6: The Big Bad Brawl

Journal Entry(Gene): I returned to Devon and the meetings for the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session, without Finny of course. I went to the crew house to become the new assistant manager. I finally meet the crew manager, Cliff Quackenbush. He treats me disrespectfully and says I don't have enough skills or motivation. He then had the audacity to call me maimed. How dare someone speak to me like that. I was not maimed. I could not stand Quackenbush's remark so I punched him in the face. We both tumbled in the water and I was soaked in water as I returned to my dorm room. On the way there, another strict Devon master stops me and tells me to put an end to my wild antics, and it won't be tolerated. This upset me, them he told me I had a long distance phone call. It was Finny. We began talking and I tell him that I am going to run for assistant crew manager. He disagreed with my positioning as that job is usually for young, unathletic people. Finny told me that I should do sports. I began to feel that I was coming part of Finny ever since his great fall. I can take over Finny's position and will be just as good as him.

Quote: "I hit him hard across the face. I didn't know why for an instant; it was almost as though I were maimed" (Knowles 79).

The picture shows Gene and Quackenbush's fight from the chapter after Quackenbush called Gene maimed. Gene punches his in the face.

Chapter 7: Patriotic Service

Diary entry:(Gene): Brinker recently visited my room, and was questioning why I was alone in my dorm room. He thought that I fixed the situation so I could have it this way. Brinker suggested that I purposefully pushed Finny, causing him to fall and get hurt. Soon after we all go to the Butt Room to smoke, and the same conversation comes up. Now that's just nonsense and I told all the other boys that. More importantly, me and the boys volunteered to shovel snow off the railroad tracks for the milItary trains to pass. As we are working, a train full of soldiers passed by and that really got us feeling happy and excited. I began to speak with Brinker alone, and we decided that we should enlist in the army to support the country and be patriotic heroes. Quackenbush, however, decided he didn't want to join. What an unpatriotic punk. Excited about my proud moment, I dance up into my room only to find that Finny is back. What a surprise. This made me think maybe I should stay with him and the army is not ready for me yet.

Quote: "All of us lined both sides of the track and got ready to cheer the engineer and passengers. The coach windows were open and the passengers surprisingly were all hanging out; they were all men, I could discern, all young, all alike. It was a troop train" (Knowles 97).

This picture depicts the boys shoveling the train tracks because of the lack of labor in the United States for the new army recruits.

Chapter 8: Time to Train

Diary Entry(Finny): Gene was wearing some funny looking clothes. They were old an smelled awful. He must have been shoveling more snow. You know what really sucks? All of the maids are away because of the war! This does nothing but make my life so hard. Gene says he wants to enlist, but I must know him better than he knows himself. For some reason Brinker tried to help me take a shower. I can do things for myself! We nicknamed Brinker yellow peril. Haha! I'm so clever. I love winter, while it seems like everyone else at Devon dislikes it. Crutches suck. They mess up my easy flow when walking and make me feel like a liability. I also get tired so easily!Gene makes me so mad sometimes. He quit managing the sports and began just going to regular gym class again. I was not going to stand for that, so I made home try doing some chin ups. One thing lead to another and we decided something. I am going to help him tried for the Olympics. He ran and ran and could of kept running. If i can't compete, I'm glad I can at least mentor someone who can.

Quote: "He needed me. I was the least trustworthy person he had ever met. I knew that; he knew or should know that too. I had even told him. I had told him. But there was no mistaking the shield of remoteness in his face and voice. He wanted me around. The war then passed away from me, and dreams of enlistment and escape and a clean start lost their meaning for me"(Knowles 108).

Instead of enlisting in the war with others, Gene finds Finny returns and decides to stay with him and train with him to improve athletically for Olympics.

Chapter 9: Carnival Escape

Diary Entry(Finny): It is almost like I brainwashed Gene. He has begun to believe the same things as me. Leper enlisted, but I still think the whole war is something made up by some old rich guys. His enlistment was somewhat of a shock to us. One day a recruiter came to Devon and told him abeout the ski troops, and Leper was hooked. He was out of here faster that I fell from that tree. Everyone started making jokes about Leper's enlistment and began making up stories on how he attempted to kill Hitler himself. I decided to stay out of it. I don't want to get involved in talking bad about someone behind their back. We were really bored on a Saturday. We had nothing to do so I had an idea. We were going to have a winter carnival. The carnival would have games, a decathlon, and hard cider. Brinker then tried to take control of the game making for the group. Haha nice try! I got all of the other boys to start tackling nine and it's was a lot of fun. He started playing along eventually we all got tired. We had a blast. Not too long after, I heard Gene receive a telegram. I wonder who it was from?

Quote: "I wondered in the silences between jokes about Leper whether the still hidden parts of myself might contain the Sad Sack, the outcast, or the coward. We were all at our funniest about Leper, and we all secretly hoped that Leper, that incompetent, was as heroic as we said"(Knowles 127).

Here is a photo of all the boys gathered around at the Winter Carnival. They soon received a telegram to Gene from Leper saying to come meet him and that he has "escaped".

Chapter 10: Psychotic Visit

Diary Entry(Leper): I called Gene. Oh man what if they find me. I'm so scared. They think I'm crazy. I'm not crazy. Gene came to my house. I told him to come to the Christmas location, and he knew what that meant. When he arrived, I took him straight to the dining room so we could talk. I told him that I left the army. There was no way I was going to let them discharge me because I was crazy. I would never be able to find work again. I then began calling him savage and started yelling at him. I accused him of purposefully knocking Finny out of the tree. Gene proceeded to hit my chair and knock me over. I just started laughing. I couldn't help myself. My mom came in and helped me out and gave us dinner. Gene and me then proceeded to go on a walk. I told him the stories of the hallucinations that I had while in the army. I saw some pretty strange things. After I started saying that stuff, he ran. I didn't chase him. I had enough going on in my head already.

Quote: "What did he mean by telling me a story like that! I didn't want to hear any more of it. Not now or ever. I didn't care because it had nothing to do with me. And I didn't want to hear any more of it. Ever"(Knowles 151).

This is Gene visiting Leper Lepellier after receiving the note that said he's escaped. Gene comes to find out that Leper has been traumatized by the war and is becoming psycho.

Chapter 11: Order in the Court

Journal Entry(Gene): Upon returning to Devon, I found Finny in the middle of a snowball fight. I was desperate to talk to him. I waited and watched the fight so that I could talk to him after, but it was taking too long. As I turned to walk away from the fight, Finny beamed me in the back of the head with a snowball. As he walked over to me, I realized that his walk was that of a normal person, far from his old style. He mentioned something about Leper, but I refused to mention his mental state. We got into the snowball fight and it was a free for all. No teams. Just chaos. Later, Finny told me that his bone was growing back stronger than before. Brinker soon walked into the room and asked about Leper. I then explained how he was crazy. The next day, Brinker explained to me why I hadn't enlisted in the war yet. He said it was because I pitied Finny because of the accident that I caused. At 10:00 that night, Brinker stormed into our room and told us that we needed to come with him. He brought us to the SSSSS boys to have a trial on my role in causing the accident. Finny and myself told the wrong story. I was on the tree with him, but we said that I wasn't. Then Brinker said that the only true testimony could one from Leper, and that's when he came in and gave it. Finny got angry and exited with fury. After we heard the main doors opening and him walking out, we heard a thud proceeded by lots of grunting and banging. Finny had fallen down the marble staircase.

Quote: "But by now I no longer needed this vivid false identity; now I was acquiring, I felt , a sense of my own real authority and worth, I had had many new experiences and I was growing up"(Knowles 156).

This is when Gene is on trial for the boys to decide whether or not he intentionally caused Finny to fall and break a leg. Leper gives a testimony as he saw everything take place. Finny later got frustrated, ran away, and fell down a flight of stairs.

Chapter 12: Bye-Bye

Journal Entry(Gene): Finny laid on the stairs. He was in intense pain. Dr. Stanpole and Phil Latham rushed to Finny and carried him to the infirmary. Before leaving, Dr. Stanpole said that Finny had broken his leg again, but this time it was just a clean fracture, as aposté to the shattered leg previously. Watching someone help Finny was a strange sight. He was always helping others and not receiving assistance with anything. Instead of going to bed, I snuck out and went to visit Finny in the infirmary. U climbed through the window and fretted Finny. He was furious. I tried apologizing and offering help, but he wasn't accepting anything. I left out the window again, and walked around the campus. The next morning I went to the infirmary and brought some of Finny's clothes. Finny tries to justify his need to go to war, but I told him that he would be useless there. We began talking about the tree again. We both agreed that the action of jouncing the limb was blind impulse. I then left. Later, after surgery, Dr. Stanpole came and talked to me. Finny died.

Quote: "No, I don't know how to show you, how can I show you, Finny? Tell me how to show you. It was just some ignorance inside me, some crazy thing inside me, something blind, that's all it was"(Knowles 191).

Here is when Gene finds out that Finny has died. Notice that Gene is not crying because he feels like he was part of Finny and almost died with him.

Chapter 13: Military Mind

Journal Entry(Gene): I looked out the window, I saw a plentitude of jeeps and soldiers full the campus. Bringer was next to me and tried to bring up Leper, but I refused to speak of him. The jeeps and troops were all clustered and useless. Brinker's father came, and he was different. He was one of those old men that Finny believed to be controlling the war. All he did was talk about the military. Once he left, Brinker apologized for him. He told me that people like him run the war, but people like Leper and himself have t fight in it. I came to a conclusion about the war. It wasn't the fault of the younger generation. It wasn't the fault of the old men. It was something ignorant in the human heart. Brinker and myself left each other. As I walked to the gym, I thought of Finny. Funny wasn't dead. His liveliness would prosper within me forever. I decided that I was ready for the war. I no longer had hatred in myself, so war was the plan. All of my enemies had been killed by Devon.

Quote: "I never killed anybody and I never developed an intense level of hatred for the enemy. Because my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killer my enemy there"(Knowles 204).

Picture evidence of Brinkers dad disapproving the decision to join the war. Gene soon realizes that he has experienced killing an enemy without being in an army. He finds out that war has been inside of him this whole time.

The Game: Sieze the Flags

  • Materials:
  • Two teams
  • Flags for each player
  • Team identification badge/flag for each player
  • Bucket for flags

Rules: 1. the game starts by the two teams on opposing sides of the field

2. Players then run towards each other at the sound of a whistle

3. The flags are held by the players

4. The opposing player must be tackled in order to remove the flag

5. Once the flag is removed, the team with the new flag must return it to their bucket before the other team does with their flags

6. First team to return all flags wins

7. Then you repeat the game until one team wins 3 rounds.

This game could have been played by the boys in A Seperate Peace because it has very little rules, is very physical, and just about anyone can play.


Created with images by zoonabar - "School"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.