Gene And Phineas 'Superego In John Knowles' A Separate Peace

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“The only person with whom you have to compare yourself is you in the past.” Sigmund Freud is considered one of the most influential psychologists in history, and many of his ideas and theories are continually changing how people and society view and perceive the world. One of his better-known ideas is that of the id, ego, and superego. These ideas can be applied to the characters in A Separate Peace, specifically Gene and Phineas. In addition, Gene utilizes many defense mechanisms, such as displacement and rationalization. Freud’s theories and ideas can be applied to John Knowles’ A Separate Peace through Gene’s character and personality. First of all, the id, ego, and superego can effectively describe the relationship between Phineas…show more content…
This can describe Phineas because of his lack of maturity. He acts upon impulse, in cases such as the spontaneous trip to the beach in chapter 5 and his denial of the war shows his innocence and lack of knowledge. Finny believes that the war is made up by “the fat old men who don’t want us crowding them out of their jobs.” Along with this, Finny talks about how “they’ve cooked up this war fake” (Knowles 107). Finny’s refusal of the war exhibits the id and his lack of knowledge and maturity. On the other hand, Gene has a strong superego, meaning that his moral and ethical views are more important to him. Furthermore, he always has the push to do the right thing and especially in terms of his academics such as his determination to be head of the class. Also, the superego's goal is “to suppress entirely any urges or desires of the id that are considered wrong or socially unacceptable” (What is the superego?) This pertains to Phineas and Gene because Gene is always trying to get Phineas to do the right thing. For example, when Phineas proposes going to the beach, Gene somewhat questions the idea because he understands the consequences: “Going there risked expulsion, destroying the studying I was going to do for an…show more content…
One of these mechanisms is displacement. Displacement is the shifting of feelings onto another person or object. This occurs when “the Id wants to do something of which the Super-ego does not permit” ( Gene uses displacement during a fight with Leper. They are fighting about Leper escaping from the army and during this argument, Gene gets angry and “shoved [his] foot against the rung of his chair and kicked. Leper went over in his chair and collapsed against the floor” (Knowles 137). This example of displacement reveals. Another example of defense mechanisms used by Gene is rationalization. Rationalization is a defense mechanism in which feelings or behaviors are justified in a seemingly logical manner. Freud says that,"The poor ego has a still harder time of it; it has to serve three harsh masters, and it has to do its best to reconcile the claims and demands of all three...The three tyrants are the external world, the superego, and the id” (Freud). The ego is forced to rationalize among these internal and external voices. Gene uses this defense mechanism after he fails a trigonometry test. He blames this occurrence on Finny because it was his idea to go to the beach and disrupt Gene’s time to study. However, Gene was given the option to go to the beach, so it wasn't really Finny’s fault. Gene doesn’t understand that it was actually his fault that he failed

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