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. They are supposed to be best friends, but Gene envies him and thinks he is trying to make him look bad. After Finny’s accident, Gene struggled with guilt and his life was changed because of it.
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. Dismissive and harmful effects of guilt are all around Gene. These effects caused Gene to lose confidence, and lose his ability to grow as a person.
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.
Adulthood: for many not part of it, it is seen as a scary, foreign world. The moment one leaves the safety of childhood to become an adult varies between people and cultures. For Gene Forrester, the protagonist in the coming-of-age novel A Separate Peace by John Knowles, adulthood begins with the fall of his friend, Phineas. Set at New Hampshire’s Devon Prep School during the years of 1942-1943, A Separate Peace follows Gene and Phineas until they reach maturity. The moment that Phineas falls from the tree symbolizes when Gene falls from innocence. Gene’s loss of innocence is demonstrated by his intent to hurt Phineas, the change from summer to winter, and the Devon students’ involvement in World War II.
Gene is a very intelligent student. Throughout the novel we see Gene almost become persuaded by the actions of his friend Phineas. Phineas is a bouncy character who loves sports and doesn’t see the value of studying like Gene. Gene frequently tries to balance his academic and social life, but he gets sick of this balancing act when he backlashes at Phineas for interrupting him from his schoolwork, “Okay, we go. We watch little lily-liver Lepellier not jump from a tree, and I ruin my grade”(57). This event shows how Gene takes his academic work seriously and can get annoyed by the constant nagging and distractions by his friends.
The story “A Separate Peace”, written by John Knowles, was written at the time and takes place during World War II when battles and conflicts amongst nations were evident. Each nation involved struggled and fought their hardest in order to satisfy the good of their nation. Not only is the setting in the story taking place during this time of quarrel, the story also demonstrates areas of self-conflict and an internal battle throughout. The characters in “A Separate Peace”, are described as experiencing this self-conflicting, internal battle. Gene (also the narrator) is specifically depicted as he goes through his battle in life. Gene’s relationship with his “best friend” Phineas describes how the relationship resulted in the killing of Gene's enemy, his own youth, and innocence. Gene is plainly described in the novel as envious of Finny, he is also depicted as the position of much hatred and dismay by his peers. Therefore, the fact that Gene kills his own youth is likely considering Finny’s success, Gene’s jealousy towards
One day, thetwo boys were on top of the tree and a large sense of envy came over Gene, he shook the treebranch. Finny loses his balance, trying to reach for Gene. Gene, who does not move, he letsFinny fall. Finny shattered his leg and was told he could never play sports again. This is a keypoint in the novel which showed Gene at his lowest point where he let his emotions get the bestof him. Throughout the rest of the book Knowles keeps stating Gene’s thoughts of regret andFinny’s disbelief of the situation. In a true friendship, if one was feeling a great amount jealousy,one would most likely talk it through or at least think through the situation instead of trying tocause physical harm to them.Once summer session is over, Brinker Hadley comes into the two boys room unaware ofFinny’s return and asks Gene if he is ready to enlist which they talked about prior to Finny’sreturn. Finny who wanted nothing more to be able to enlist was thinking about losing his bestfriend but reacted differently. He kind of shook it off and went to shower. Gene deciding not toleave because of Finny.t this shows how they have more of a rivalry than a friendship just by theway he handles the situation. Normally a friend would he happy and supportive towards the othereven if they can not do it. Finny was the opposite.The last main event that would shake the friendship to more of a rivalry was in Chapter12, Finny angrily left a room because he still did not want to believe Gene pushed him.Unfortunately, he fell down the marble stairs causing him to break his leg again. After this hefinally realized he would not be able to enlist like everyone else and Gene snaps on him stating,“Phineas, you wouldn’t be any good in the war, even if nothing had happened to your leg.”(12.190) This leading into a blowout and Finny coming to senses with what Gene actually did tohim. That was the last conversation they
“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. At Devon, Leper is an outcast who Gene befriends again because no one else seems to understand him but gene. This shows how although Gene has swayed emotions, underneath all he is a good person who doesn't mind taking another friend even if it means he is viewed differently for being around Leper. Along with that after braking Finny’s leg and finding out Finny will never play sports again, Gene wishes he had been the one to break his leg. Further showing how at heart Gene is a good friend. Gene’s widespread personality lead to him acquiring a diverse description, including jealousy, self preservation, over analysing, but friendly
Gene’s jealousy towards Finny’s perfect personality causes him to have childish emotions, such as resentment. Gene Forrester constantly battles within himself clashing emotions, specifically, hate and envy, towards Phineas. Since he strives to be like Finny, Gene does everything in his power to shove down his feelings of hatred and jealousy. After Finny beat the school swimming record, Gene suspiciously asks himself why Finny did not want him to share the news with anyone else. 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
The main purpose Gene had in the novel was to beat his fellow 's students, he went to extreme lengths to become the best. “Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance was gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest…” (page 59-60). Gene and his jealousy towards Finny overtook Gene and he jolted Finny off the branch resulting in him breaking his leg and not being able to play sports. 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. Now I knew that there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us. I was not of the same quality as he.“ (page 59). Gene wanted Finny to care about Gene and have a concern if Gene was going to beat him in sports, Gene had issues when facing Finny’s confidence. Therefore, Gene always tried to make Finny jealous and that pushed him to hurt him in the
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
One way Gene’s jealousy and imitation is an effect on his relationship with Finny is that it caused lots of jealousy towards Finny because of his abilities, appearance, and actions. An example of this is when Gene stated “He had gotten away with everything. I felt a sudden stab of disappointment. That was because I just wanted to see some more excitement; that must have been it." (Knowles). Gene wanted Finny to get in trouble for what Finny had did, which had worn his tie as a belt. He hated that Finny got away with almost anything that he did wrong and wanted to go down someday. Another way their relationship is affected is through Gene’s lack of self-finding and liking. Gene hated that he never was like Finny, so he started to acting and do things that Finny did. That caused a lot of jealousy, guilt, and self-destruction from throughout the relationship that Gene and Finny had. Even through Gene’s envy and imitation effected his relationship with Finny, he still managed to find peace within everything that happened.
The first reason why Gene finds peace is because he realizes that Phineas was not the enemy and that the real enemy was himself. He describes the realization by saying, “All of them, all except Phineas, constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy who they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy who never attacked that way--if he was indeed the enemy.” (Knowles 204). At this point, in the end of the story, Gene recognizes that he was fighting a battle against someone who was not fighting back, and that the person he thought was the enemy was not actually the enemy. Next, Gene also gains peace because he finds his own identity after Phineas dies. The author of An Overview of “A Separate Peace” says that, “he reaches this atmosphere only after separating himself from Phineas and finding his own identity,” (Alton). When Gene had been focused on becoming just like Finny, he was not at peace. However, when Gene starts constructing and discovering his own identity, he has a complete burden lifted from his shoulders, therefore finding his peace. To conclude, Gene finds peace by realizing that Phineas was not the enemy and by finding his own
The quote “Envy is ignorance; imitation is suicide,” (Emerson 370) accurately describes Gene Forrester from “A Separate Peace”. John Knowles is the author of “A Separate Peace” and it is set in New Hampshire at Devon High. Gene Forrester is not your normal protagonist; he thinks his best friend Phineas is “out to get him” and he eventually grows to envy him. He used to conform to Finny in the beginning, but he later grows into his own character. “A Separate Peace” portrays how Gene’s envy and imitation affects himself, his relationship with Finny, and how he finds his peace, or lack thereof, at the end of the book.