A Separate Peace: Character Analysis

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that, “envy is ignorance; imitation is suicide.” (370). John Knowles’ A Separate Peace is set during World War I at Devon School, a boarding school for boys. The book centers on Gene Forrester, a student at Devon, who could be described as an intelligent, but jealous, conformist. A Separate Peace illustrates Gene’s envy and imitation of his friend, Finny, and how it affects himself and his relationship with Finny, and also how Gene eventually finds peace. To start, Gene’s envy and imitation of Phineas affect him in many different ways. One example of this is when Gene decides to play sports for Finny because Finny told him to. After this, Gene explains that he “lost part of myself to him then, and a soaring …show more content…

The first reason why Gene finds peace is because he realizes that Phineas was not the enemy and that the real enemy was himself. He describes the realization by saying, “All of them, all except Phineas, constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy who they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy who never attacked that way--if he was indeed the enemy.” (Knowles 204). At this point, in the end of the story, Gene recognizes that he was fighting a battle against someone who was not fighting back, and that the person he thought was the enemy was not actually the enemy. Next, Gene also gains peace because he finds his own identity after Phineas dies. The author of An Overview of “A Separate Peace” says that, “he reaches this atmosphere only after separating himself from Phineas and finding his own identity,” (Alton). When Gene had been focused on becoming just like Finny, he was not at peace. However, when Gene starts constructing and discovering his own identity, he has a complete burden lifted from his shoulders, therefore finding his peace. To conclude, Gene finds peace by realizing that Phineas was not the enemy and by finding his own

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