Jealousy In John Knowles A Separate Peace

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Internal struggle and bitter jealousy are complex feelings that can hinder the relationship between family and friends for any individual. These emotions can stem from outward sources such as war or a deep-seated envy that lies within everyone. In John Knowles's A Separate Peace, Gene Forrester is a prime example of this struggle. Due to jealousy of his best friend Finny and his internal struggle to find his true self, the reader is made aware of the the hardships in finding a balance between constant paranoia and true feelings towards Finny, a seemingly impossible task.
Throughout the course of the novel, it becomes apparent that Gene is a very dynamic character with an ever changing disposition. Professor of English James Ellis states in
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The first major scene with loss of innocence in the story is when Gene shakes the tree limb and this causes Finny to fall from the tree and shatter his leg, ruining his future for sports, fighting in the war, and even walking correctly. In the scene before Gene shook the tree limb, he grew paranoid and assumed that Finny was attempting to sabotage Gene’s grades by hosting the club meeting and expecting him to go, and Finny denied the accusation. Gene internally can’t stand how perfect and pure Finny’s character is and it eats away at him, which is what caused him to do what he did with the tree. The following quote from Professor Ellis is a perfect example of the change inside Gene and what caused him to ruin Finny’s life. “Confronted with the evident truth of Finny’s denial, Gene understands his inferiority to Phineas and his own moral ugliness, made the more so when juxtaposed to Finny’s innocence. It is this realization that prompts his conscious shaking of the tree, which casts Phineas to the earth and which serves as Gene’s initiation into the ignorance and moral blackness of the human heart” (Ellis 82). On a level of purity and innocence, Finny outweighs Gene by a lot, and it was Gene’s realization of his jealousy and his inferiority to Finny that led to the injury. This symbol of loss of innocence continues to come back and haunt both Gene and Finny throughout the novel. They both continue to grow and mature, but now it is different. Even though he never says anything about it until later in the novel, Finny knows that Gene purposefully shook the branch that caused him to fall and injure him. He had a nagging suspicion that he didn’t just fall, but he didn’t want to accept it. It is a fact that Finny is a great athlete and he has never fallen before, so why would he fall now? Knowing that your best friend, or someone you
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