Strength develops in someone through their experiences which have the ability to make them an emotionally stronger person. A quote by Ernest Hemingway presents that “the world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places.” Even those who suffer the most will have the ability to bounce back at a stronger state. This theme reveals its relevance in A Separate Peace by John Knowles as we analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the main characters, Finny and Gene. Although some may insist that Finny’s emotional state fits the mold of a weak character, I have confidence that Finny has the most inner strength out of the two boys given his description and actions throughout the novel. Towards the beginning of the novel, Finny’s strengths include his ability to stay optimistic, even after his life-threatening accident. When Finny converses with Gene afterwards, he tells Gene “Listen, pal, if I can’t play sports, you’re going to play them for me…” (Knowles 85). Even after being told he probably won’t have the ability to walk again, a point one could describe as the lowest and most depressing of his life, Finny maintains his zest for life. He still encourages Gene to do the things that Finny no longer can because he wants to see someone else flourish, and most importantly: his friend. After Finny’s death, Gene even declares that “nothing … had broken [Finny’s] harmonious and natural unity” (Knowles 203). Since Gene exclaims this, the reader understands that Finny
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“You don’t stand around admiring the view. Jump!” (Knowles 17.) This proves that Finny wants Gene to be more like him. So that is why he wants Gene to jump.
Gene gets upset with the fact that he thinks Finny is trying to sabotage his grades. “He was no better that I was, no matter who won all the contest” (Knowles 56). This initial change had an enormous impact on their relationship. Gene wants to be at Finny’s level all the time; so they are at equal levels. This sudden change will be the reasoning for the accident.
The relationship between Gene and Finny changes and evolves, influenced by actions and consequences and filtered by changing perceptions. The changes are frequently by-products of Gene's insecurity and his constant self-evaluation. At times, Gene and Finny are the best of friends, sharing adventures and feelings with complete openness and honesty. At other times, Gene considered Finny to be a rival and a detriment to Gene's ability to all that he could or hoped to accomplish at Devon. This quote helps support how their relationship.
“Then a second realization broke as clearly and bleakly as dawn at the beach. Finny had deliberately set out to wreck my studies.” (24) Gene thinks this after going to the beach with Finny and ruining his grade because of the lack of studying due to his time spent having fun. This is just one example of how Gene thinks there's some sort of ongoing competition between themselves, causing Gene to be extremely jealous, self concerning and over analyzing about every situation instead of just enjoying the fun the two have as Finny does. Even though Gene acts like this he is still very friendly and a good person.
Because Finny refused to tell anyone, but Gene, about his record-breaking achievement, Gene is baffled as to why Finny would not want to. It seems as though Gene is imagining himself in Finny’s shoes as he mentions, “Was he trying to impress me or something? Not tell anybody? When he had broken a school record without a day of practice? I
Guilt is a funny concept, that has a different affects on different people. Guilt can cause some to confess and it releases the burden, but for those who take long to confess, it can turn into a negative reaction that can cripple your emotions. A Separate Peace is set in a boarding school in New England. Gene, a main character, is an incisive introvert whose best friend, Phineas, is a handsome athlete. When an accident occurs over the Summer, that leaves Gene and Finny hurt in some way, what comes next could take a toll on their friendship.
In result of the accident he faces many bumps in the road and he does not know how to properly handle them. Constantly, Finny was a confident charming person until the accident which makes him a dynamic character. The end of the book supports this because Finny is a completely different person before he dies than in the beginning of the book. One of the many things that changed in Finny's life was his friendship with Gene. This quote shows one of the many themes in this book, Friendship.
Friendship A Separate Peace has a very unique description of friendship. Throughout the book, Gene is jealous of Finny’s looks and what he is able to do. Gene has a lot of ambivalent feelings toward Finny. He wants to be Finny, but at the same time he is jealous of him.
Gene believes that Finny and he hate each other, until he realizes Finny’s pureness, which Gene can not stand. At first, Gene believes that Finny wants to exceed him, and that the two are rivals. Everyone at Devon likes Finny. The teachers adore him, the students look up to him, the athletes aspire
Finny not being able to play sports anymore that meant Gene was next in line for the top athlete at Devon. In addition, this incident leads to Finny having several health issues and dying towards the end of the novel. Gene knew that Finny had no admirations towards him and that made him angered. Gene was hurt when Finn died but he still didn’t change once he went to war or when he came back to visit Devon in his elder years. “He had never been jealous of me for a second.
The development of the protagonist mind and character from childhood to adult…maturation and recognition of one's identity and places of the world” (Alton). Gene's character throughout the story developed as he grew older. It was not till later that he realized the ignorance in his heart caused him to do immature things. Gene felt like he had to conform to Finny because Gene grew up in the south; he did not have a lot; however FInny was raised by wealth. Ultimately the achievement of Peace is not within the community it is the maturing within himself
“Envy is ignorance; imitation is suicide” (Emerson 138). In John Knowles’ “A Separate Peace,” Gene becomes so envious of his friend Finny that he starts to act like him; he was jealous of Finny’s capability of getting away with anything, and he also feels bitter because he sees Finny as being better than himself. Although it started as common friendship envy, it grew into a terrible animosity damaging the relationship between these two characters. For starters, Gene and Finny’s friendship is an uncommon one. They are somehow the opposite of each other: Gene is a smart, introverted guy while Finny is the athletic, extroverted one.
“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide” (Emerson). The character Gene learns of this not until after many trials and a great tragedy. In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the idea of self-reliance is greatly stressed. The novel A Separate Peace conveys how Gene’s envy and imitation of Finny affect him, how Gene’s envy and imitation affect their relationship with Finny, and Gene’s achievement of peace. The envy towards and imitation of Funny greatly affect Gene.
John Knowles, author of A Separate Peace, uses both character development and setting to support his decision in selecting the title. He uses the main characters of Gene and Phineas (Finny) and their troubled yet deeply bonded friendship as a way to illustrate the separate peace that takes place both within the boys themselves and in the friendship that is built between the two. Knowles also uses the setting of the novel to demonstrate the vast difference between the peaceful Devon School grounds and the war raging outside of the school’s walls. The title, A Separate Peace, as chosen by the author is symbolic of the main characters, Finny and Gene’s, struggle to find peace within themselves and with each other while set in a place that significantly contrasts the events of the real world.
Overall Gene is known to be the character that has worries and lets emotional situations get the best of him. Continuously throughout the story Gene allows what happens to Finny and the world around him slowly bring him down. The war acts as another filler for disaster in society and can get the best of the boys who are preparing to fight in it. Therefore Gene’s identity in A Separate Peace defines him as the weaker one the one who is sensitive.