A Separate Peace By John Knowlse: Character Analysis

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Sofia Vazquez Santacruz

Mrs. Griffin



Peace with oneself

In John Knowlse’s Novel, A Separate Peace, illustrates Gene’s life at Devon boarding school, in New England during, World War II. Gene, a sixteen-year-old intelligent student with insecurities, forms a club involving jumping off a tree with his best friend, finny, also known as Phineas. Phineas's ability to get away with breaking rules and natural athletic ability cause Gene to feel jealous toward Phineas. Gene’s jealousy drives him to jounce the limb Phineas was on, which leads to Finny unable to enlist in the military due to his broken leg. Military enlistment becomes a big topic as Leper, being timid and peaceful, becomes the first boy at Devon to enlist in the …show more content…

Gene constantly justifies the hatred he feels toward his best friend in order to make himself feel better. After observing how Phineas always gets away with everything he does, Gene states, “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.” (25) This suggests that Gene knows that feeling envious towards Phineas isn’t morally right, since one doesn’t try to justify a good act. A bad behavior brings one to feel guilty, and that is what Phineas is feeling for it, which is why he tries justifying his hatred towards Finny by repeating the word “little”. Using “little” helps Gene find tranquility in knowing that he secretly hates …show more content…

Out of anger Finny expresses himself and states“What good are you in a war with a busted leg!” (190) Finny doesn't feel at peace with his new identity that was formed the moment he broke his leg. Going from a gifted and talented athlete who enjoyed leading to becoming someone who can no longer participate in sports is challenging for finny. Phineas feels guilty of no longer being the talented athlete he used to be and causes him to form hatred toward himself for being incompetent to participate in a war. Finny explains why he would say the war wasn't real and states, “Why do you think I kept saying there wasn’t any war all winter? I was going to keep on saying it until two seconds after I got a letter from Ottawa or Chugking saing, ‘Yes, you can enlist with us.’ “ (190) Phineas can avoid this feeling of guilt for not participating in the war due to his broken leg by attempting to lie to himself and make himself believe there is no war. By being able to believe that there is no war, he can avoid feeling useless and not enough, which allows him to be at peace with his own identity. Phineas here suggests he's frustrated with himself for being useless in the war when he used to be a talented athlete and a natural leader. Phineas can't accept who he is now, and his guilt for not participating in the war doesn't let him be at peace with

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