A Separate Peace: Character Analysis

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Emerson states that “envy is ignorance, imitation is suicide” (370). Famous author John Knowles wrote A Separate Peace during the events of World War II at his prep school Devon. He writes about a boy similar to himself who struggles with accepting his progress towards adulthood. Gene, the boy in question, finds himself escaping this issue through his best friend Phineas. A Separate Peace demonstrates how Gene’s envy and imitation of Finny affect him, how Gene’s envy and imitation of Finny affect his relationship with Finny, and Gene’s lack of peace. Gene’s envy and imitation of Finny affect him. Throughout the story Gene has a difficult time making decisions for himself, as a result he turns towards Finny to influence his decisions. In the …show more content…

Gene’s ultimate goal to be more like Finny was never achieved in the story, Finny’s unique personality faced Gene with the problem that he’d never be like him. An example of this is found in the article, which states, “By presenting Gene with his utter uniqueness, Phineas forces him to grapple with questions of identity and to confront the unrealized depths of his own character.” (Alton). With this in mind Gene is forced to find his own character which we know throughout the story is his not his goal. His goal is to become more like Finny, which he can not achieve because it is impossible to become someone. This leaves Gene at a point where he no longer knows what to do and leaves him confused. Gene never reaches his complete peace because he figures out that the real enemy is within himself. Alton states “Gene’s acknowledgement that the real enemy is within himself and, indeed, within each of us: we’re all liable to corruption from within by our own envy, anger, and fear.” At the end of the story Gene says he’s killed off the enemy and left them at Devon. This is untrue, as we know that by the end of the story Gene’s true enemy is himself. If Gene truly felt as if he killed off the enemy and left them at Devon there would be no need to return to Devon later in his

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