Jealousy And Paranoia In John Knowles A Separate Peace

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Antisthenes once said: “As iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion.” This quote directly relates to how in the novel A Separate Peace by John Knowles, in which the main character, Gene, experiences jealousy and paranoia. These emotions cause him to create an enemy out of his friend, Finny. The effect of his emotions is that Finny is hurt and crippled for life. The jealousy consumes him just as rust consumes iron. Through the thoughts and actions that Gene chooses to show in his flashback, this paper will draw the conclusion that Gene’s war with Finny was made up in his head in order to give himself a solid enemy to defeat. Because of this, he contributed to, if not caused, Finny’s injury. Once solidified, the concrete theory will allow a reader to more profoundly understand the incidents leading up to Finny’s “fall” off the tree limb and why this explains the ending of the book and Gene as a whole. Gene’s jealousy of Finny is evident in Gene’s reactions to Finny’s accomplishments. Finny is a natural athlete who performs exceptionally in school sports. Gene, however, is not as physically capable as…show more content…
Gene did not set out to kill Finny, but because of his actions, that was the end result. Finny was his enemy and now Gene had won. Or had he? And it is this shred of doubt, that maybe there was nothing to win because it was never a competition, that explains Gene’s thoughts in the last sentence of the book, which are: “Maginot Lines against this enemy they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy that attacked that way - if he ever attacked at all; if he was indeed the enemy” (204). In summary, Gene paints Finny as the ultimate enemy because his mind needs an enemy to defeat, but once the enemy is gone, so is the person who won because the entire situation was fabricated and the war was all in Gene’s
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