Inner And Coming-Of-Age Conflicts In John Knowles A Separate Peace

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Written by John Knowles, A Separate Peace portrays internal and coming-of-age conflicts from the perspective of Gene, an adolescent about to be drafted. Set during World War 2, Gene and Phineas, two best friends, establish the Super Suicide Society to be as reckless as the summer allows. Gene secretly loathes Phineas, and conceivably breaks his leg by pushing him off a tree. The rest of the story adorns the aftermath of the accident. Leper, a key member of the society, becomes the first to enroll into the war, but soon becomes insane. Symbolized from World War 2, Phineas, Gene, and Leper face internal wars triggered by the desperate need to accept hardships in the world, the struggles of finding inner peace, and the fear of accepting change…show more content…
When Gene rejects Phineas’ plans, so that he can study, Gene realizes that Phineas “probably thought anything you were good at came without effort. He didn’t know yet that he was unique” (58). Gene idolizes Phineas, believing he is effortlessly perfect. He struggles with accepting himself, because he would rather be Phineas. He loathes the recognition Phineas is given by his peers and teachers. Aspiring to have that level of acknowledgment, he pushes himself to achieve as much as Phineas. He is not able to accept himself, because he is consumed by his jealousy for Phineas and discontentment within himself. His aspiration to be like Phineas, fights his need for self-contentment. Gene desires to be loved and worshiped as Phineas is causing enmity to arouse. However, he needs to accept himself as a person rather than fighting to be something unattainable. His desires and needs counter each other, creating an internal conflict. While Phineas is in care for his injury, Gene is left alone with his thoughts and, out of curiosity, puts on Phineas’ clothes. Wearing his clothes causes Gene to feel he “would never stumble through the confusions of my own character again”(62). Gene feels better as Phineas and unsafe with himself. He strives to have Phineas’ confidence within himself. Phineas is content with who he is and is not affected by the people around him. Gene is insecure and cannot be at peace with himself, because he is filled with covetousness. Gene does not feel able to be intent with himself. To be at peace with yourself, he must accept the fact that he will never be idolized. He must understand the nature of himself and his introvertedness. Gene scrutinizes Phineas as an individual who manifests traits to crave, which governs his inner conflict of hatred for himself and the desire to feign the presence of
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