Gene's War In A Separate Peace

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A Separate Peace
Wars are cruel, ruthless, and catastrophic. Lives are destroyed, and families are ripped apart. People are turned against each other, and seek to extinguish one another. “Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history” (Chris Hedges, New York Times). In John Knowles, A Separate Peace, Gene Forrester, a foolish teenager, experiences his own war; a clash between friendship and insecurities. Gene goes back fifteen years later during World War II to his old boarding school in New Hampshire, the Devon School, and uncovers his past. The battle Gene fought in caused his friendship with Phineas, also known as Finny, to be torn apart. Gene’s war with himself, caused …show more content…

Throughout the novel, Gene was oblivious to the fact that Phineas wanted to friends with him, and that Phineas would be jealous of him. According to Gene, Finny was one of the best athletes in the school, and everything came easily to him. For example, when they were at a pool, Finny talked about how he could beat the freestyle record at Devon and without practice, Finny beat the record in seconds. Gene was very impressed and asked Finny to swim again in front of judges, but Finny declined and claimed he would not swim again. Gene couldn’t understand why his best friend wouldn’t want all the attention, but he went with it. While Gene was one of the best students, he was unappreciated. On the other hand, Finny thrived in sports and social skills. Gene was jealous of Finny not only for his outstanding performance in sports, but also, because Finny was a crowd favorite in everything. “I was beginning to see that Phineas could get away with anything. I couldn’t help but envy that a little, which was perfectly normal. There was no harm in envying even your best friend a little.” (Knowles 25). In addition of Gene always being jealous of Finny, they always had a competition or rivalry. Gene thought that Finny sabotaged his education, when all this time Finny was jealous of how good Gene was at school. They never had a healthy relationship, and it always ended with one accusation or another. …show more content…

Although Gene was always jealous of his best friend, Gene felt guilty for what he did to Finny. “The Tree” is the center of Gene’s worst memories, and his worst decisions. That tree saved a life, and it also killed one. Gene didn’t feel terrible when he pushed Finny down the tree. When he broke his friend’s foot, and found out the damage meant Finny could no longer participate in sports, he showed a side we have not seen before. Gene cried when he found out Finny could no longer play sports anymore. Gene never showed his sensitive side in the story, but from that point his life got much more complicated. With this in mind, Gene no longer saw beauty in the world. Once the winter term began, Finny took time off from school to heal, and Gene starts falling apart. “Why go through the motions of getting an education and watch the war slowly chip away at one thing I had loved here, the peace, the measureless, carless peace of the Devon summer?” (Knowles 101). Gene begins to smoke, and thinks about joining the army. By the time Gene is set on enlisting, Finny surprisingly comes back and stops him. Gene pity’s Finny, and decides not to enlist. Instead, he stays behind to be coached and trained to accomplish Finny’s life long dream; going to the Olympics. Gene trained with Finny every day, and their friendship got stronger. While this was occuring, Gene was soon blamed for breaking Finny’s leg. No one knew the truth behind

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