Finny's dream of the Olympics becomes a shared reality between the friends as the former athlete trains his replacement.
Then Finny decides that he's going to begin training Gene for the Olympics. He wants to feel equal. Gene joins his friend in a peaceful retreat from the world, celebrated in the school's unofficial Winter Carnival.
This rivalry begins with Gene's jealousy towards Finny. But Finny's trust in Gene is absolute, and he refuses to believe the confession. When Gene went back to the dorm, he returned a phone call from Finny who wanted to verify that Gene didn't have a new roommate.
Finny at first dismisses Gene's attempts to apologize, but he soon realizes that the "accident" was impulsive and not anger based.
He was building the destruction of a separate peace. Finny's status as the best athlete inspires Gene to strive to become the best student in the school.
Even a friend's enlistment and emotional breakdown does not intrude upon the peace Gene finds with Finny, until one evening when Brinker and some of the other boys drag Gene and Finny to the Assembly Room, where they propose to get to the truth about Finny's injury.