The Role of Minor Characters in A Separate Peace
Without the minor characters the story "A Separate Peace" would be missing major points and it wouldn?t run smoothly. The minor characters in the story play an important role in the way the story falls together and in causing Finny to die.
The minor characters in this story set up kind of props for other things to happen in the story. For example Brinker?s conflict with Gene. The first part of the conflict begins in the butt room where Brinker brings Gene after Finny has his fall. Brinker tries to tell everyone that Gene in fact did knock Finny off of the tree. Gene gets out by making up a crazy story but he is still mad at Brinker for this so he must get even. So later on in the story, at the winter carnival, Gene gives Brinker a reason to hold a stigma against him. Gene, caught up in the excitement, and getting back at Brinker for the butt room incident, pours some cider down Brinker?s throat. This cider almost chokes Brinker which causes him to be angry at Gene and he must get even with Gene later. So even later in the story, as his revenge, Brinker sets up another trial about Gene?s pushing Finny off of the tree. He gets everyone into his ""court room" to watch the trial and he tries to prove that Gene did in fact push Finny off. The result of all of this revenge and the result of Brinker?s existence is that Finny finds out the truth which is that Gene did knock him out of the tree on purpose. The major result is that Finny dies because of Brinker. So Brinker, being a minor character, has the role of partly causing Finny to die in the end. If it wasn?t for Brinker, Finny would have still been alive.
Minor characters also add plot and volume to the story and keep it alive. For example Leper?s going to the war. When Leper goes to the war, it is brought as a surprise. This is because Leper is not expected to be a war going type of guy. Leper is a quiet, non athletic guy, making him not a very ideal war person. Brinker would have been expected to be the first to enlist in the war because he is so big and athletic. This is one part of the minor characters adding plot to the story. Another part is Leper?s very graphic description of the war to Gene. This makes the war seem very real in the story. The most important thing Leper does to contribute to the story as a minor character is that he is also to blame for Finny?s death. Brinker calls Leper into the "court" to describe what he saw when Finny fell out of the tree. It was during Leper?s description of how he saw Gene jouncing the limb when Finny realized the truth and had his second accident on the stairs, which lead to his death. So Leper can be said to be part of the reason Finny dies, and at the same time he adds plot to the story in how he goes to war. If Leper wasn?t in the story, Finny would have still been alive because Brinker wouldn?t be able to prove that Gene was guilty and Finny wouldn?t have run out of the court to have his second fall.
The minor characters in this novel are also used to for-shadow things. For example, When Doctor Stanpole turns out the light in the corridor. When Finny finds out about Gene?s intentional pushing him off the tree, he runs and falls down the stairs. Dr. Stanpole comes to examine him on the stairs. Gene stays back out of the way so that Finny doesn?t get all worked up and hurt himself again. Once everyone is gone but the doctor, Gene approaches him at the chapel doors, and tries to ask him what?s wrong. "It?s the leg again. Broken again. But a much cleaner break I think, much cleaner. A simple fracture. He found the light switch and the foyer was plunged into darkness." Doctor Stanpole is used in this