Character Analysis Of Finny In A Separate Peace By John Knowles

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Imagine if you went to an all boy school and had one friend who overshadows you in every aspect of your life. Falling under his shadow all of the time, you could never find peace with yourself. How would you feel? This is how Gene felt standing alongside his friend Finny when he attended Devon School. There were numerous traits that Finny possessed that caused Gene to envy him. Consequently, Gene had a low self-esteem and greatly desired to be exactly like Finny. This resulted in Gene losing control of himself and acting negatively towards Finny. Gene’s jealousy of Finny’s appearance, athletic abilities, prominence, and morals ultimately resulted in the tragic death of Finny. Finny’s physical appearance is one of the main attributes that sparked …show more content…

The day they went to the beach together was the first time Gene realized that Finny was remarkably charming. Extensively describing Finny at the beach, Gene says, “His skin radiated a reddish copper glow of tan, his brown hair had been a little bleached by the sun, and I noticed that the tan made his eyes shine with a cool blue-green fire” (Knowles 87). Like everyone else, Gene thought his physical appearance wasn’t as appealing as that of those around him, especially that of Finny, and that Finny looked like someone who could never be brought down. He also envied that Finny was able to wear a pink shirt without appearing like a fairy. “He did wear it. No one else in the school could have done so without some risk of having it torn from his back” (Knowles 41). These instances along with others, resulted in Gene wanted to be Finny. He mainly shows this when he tries on Finny’s clothes while he is …show more content…

His jealousy gradually increased and caused Finny to be Gene’s true enemy. When Gene jounced the limb and knocked Finny out of the tree, it was his jealousy rising to the surface and taking action against Finny. According to a study on jealousy, “Adolescents that are lonely or have low self-worth reported greater vulnerability to jealousy” (American Psychological Association). This act of causing Finny to fall out of the tree helps with Gene’s jealousy towards Finny’s athletic ability and made Gene feel a little better about himself. “It was the first clumsy physical action I had ever seen him make” (Knowles 111). Since Finny could never participate in sports again subsequent to the accident, this sought out an opportunity for Gene to become a part of Finny. For example, it has always been a dream of Finny’s to enter in the Olympics, but now that he can’t participate, he wants Gene to train for the Olympics and fulfill Finny’s dream. Also, Gene jouncing the limb set off a chain of events that ultimately caused Finny to fall down the marble staircase and later, die while the docor was resetting the bone in his leg. After his tragic death, Gene feels relieved as if his death was his ultimate goal, not necessarily to kill Finny, but to terminate his extreme jealousy of everything about him. From this, Gene feels as if he no longer lives in the shadow of someone else and that he can be Finny now

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