A War Of Self In A Separate Peace By John Knowles

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A War of Self In his novel, A Separate Peace, Knowles uses the story of Gene Forrester to examine a dark aspect of human nature. Gene Forrester, the novel’s protagonist, fights an inner battle of jealousy and hatred towards his best friend, Phineas. Phineas, an athlete, charismatic charmer, and fearless boy is someone that Gene wishes he could be. Gene creates an enemy out of Phineas in his mind because of the “competition” that is their friendship. The Roman author Tacitus wrote, “It belongs to human nature to hate those you have injured.” Knowles asserts that the opposite is true. People hate those who injure them because of the false creation of inner-demons led by a jealous and envious nature. Gene’s character illustrates how after…show more content…
Gene comes to discover that all along Phineas is the kind of person he wishes he could be. After his death, Gene notes that Phineas “was never afraid” and that only “he never hated anyone” (Knowles 204). Phineas is the only one that did not create his own inner-demons. While every other student and teacher Gene knew had the same made-up enemies and the same dark nature, Phineas stood out as someone different, someone apart from the crowd. His death is the exemplification of his own good natured character. Phineas, as the only person who never saw an enemy at the frontier, could not live in a time of war. He could not live while being innocent when the innocence of all his friends was stripped away. Knowles uses Phineas’ character to show how someone that could never hate anyone could never live in a time where hatred was a part of everyone’s lives. Gene and Phineas were truly friends at one point in their lives. Gene’s jealous nature got the better of him and led him down a very dark path. Fighting a war that is not a real war and an enemy that is not indeed the enemy is the dark part of humanity revealed by Knowles. That it is human nature to hate those that cause one injury, an intense hatred for an enemy of war. The demons in people’s minds are always there, right across the frontier. The jealousy,
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