Past And Present: Consequences Of Gene Forrester's Actions

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Past and Present: Consequences of Gene Forrester’s Actions Past events play a crucial role in deciding what present actions a character will make. One work where past events characterize what characters do in the present is A Separate Peace by John Knowles. The novel begins with protagonist Gene Forrester returning to Devon Preparatory School. As Gene walks the Devon grounds, he begins to reminisce about the school year of 1943 and the lasting effect it has had on his life. In the summer session of 1943, Gene’s best friend Phineas fell out of a tree, shattering his leg and tragically ending his successful athletic reputation. Though the event happened to Phineas, Gene is no longer able to be at peace with the past, subsequently changing his personality and actions of the present. Prior to Phineas’ accident, he and Gene had become increasingly close. In this time, Gene became envious of Phineas, both of his carefree attitude and his extraordinary athletic ability. This is shown when Phineas beats one of Devon’s athletic records but does not tell anyone about it… Was he trying to impress me or something? Not…show more content…
Gene grows a resentment towards Phineas and makes him fall off a tree, crippling him. However, while trying to cope with what he did, Gene attempts to act like Phineas by putting on his clothing. The incident also changes his personality by the sudden lose of innocence. This can be seen both when Gene has to take responsibility for his actions and when visits the tree several years later. Both of these reflections allow Gene to come of age to realize that he is no longer innocent and he must find his place in the world. Gene’s relationship to the past makes him come to terms with his dark human nature and shapes his personality for the rest of his lives. The past will always shape how the present is
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