Alton states,” In the end , inner peace is achieved only after fighting one’s own, private war growing up. In this sense the war is symbolic also of inner struggle from adolescence to maturity”. Gene acknowledges that his real enemy is himself and that he caused all his vicious acts because of his envy, hatred, and fear of growing up. After fifteen years, Gene realizes that the problem was not Finny but himself, and he discovers his peace and happiness now that he has fought his war.
Notably, Gene, the main character does not appreciate his own self. Rather, he yearns to be Finny, a person whom he simultaneously envies and adores. Charismatic and full of life, Phineas is a character out of Gene’s dreams, and so when Gene gets the chance, he transforms into Finny; “I felt like some nobleman, some Spanish grandee” (Knowles 62). Thus, “To deny the true self is to deny the best us” (Heshmat). Apart from Finny, Gene views success as being the best in the class and in enlisting for the war.
Although, Gene’s envy toward Finny, rattles them, and the reader of their strong relationship. By the end of the book Gene learns many things. He gains awareness, changes his perceptions toward the war and his life as an adult. The narrator and the protagonist of the book, Gene Forrester, is a quiet and smart 16 year old boy.
“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide” (Emerson). The character Gene learns of this not until after many trials and a great tragedy. In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the idea of self-reliance is greatly stressed. The novel A Separate Peace conveys how Gene’s envy and imitation of Finny affect him, how Gene’s envy and imitation affect their relationship with Finny, and Gene’s achievement of peace. The envy towards and imitation of Funny greatly affect Gene.
Even when the relationship became toxic and Gene had an underlying jealousy for Finn, he lacked the confidence to break out of his comfort zone and be an independent person. Gene always believed he was in the shadow of his counterpart Finny; there was always an underlying feeling of jealousy which ultimately was the cause behind Gene making Finny fall out of the tree. His actions on the tree was even a shock to him, it made him aware for the first time of his own inner feelings towards Finny. “That level of feelings, deeper than thought which contains the truth,” (140) for actions speak louder than words and on that particular day Gene’s actions portrayed a side of himself that he refused to believe existed prior to the accident. After that incident Gene was constantly haunted by his actions and was unable to grow and develop as an
Guilt can be defined as feeling responsibility or remorse of one's offence or wrong. Gene Forrester is a prime example thaguilt is a theme prevalent in A Separate ace. The novel A Separate Peace, John Knowles is about Gene Forrester, a lonely intellectual, and his struggle against his own guilt of breaking his friens leg and running his future. His t is shown when he feels obligated to become what Phineas could now not be and when he postpones his own desires for the desires of Fin Obviously, Gene’s actions towards Finny as left him with much guilt.
Sometimes he tried too hard to make sense of the world.” (pg 18) McCandless spent too much time thinking of the world's flaws, it pained him, in turn he chose to live a type of transcendental life. The life that ultimately bid him death, a big part of it at least. The second part that ruined him to this life was his tendency to act out of anger.
In Gene's younger days, he is carefree and thinks only of himself. Maturity becomes more prominent when Gene confesses his evil against Finny. By the end of the novel, Gene overcomes the battle of good vs evil within and observes, "... my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there." (A Separate Peace, 110).
As the two boys start depending on each other, their identities becomes more linked to each other. Jealousy created this urge for Gene to be exactly like Finny so he can have some fame. During the story, Gene dresses in Finney’s clothes and sees himself looking exactly like him (91-93). Finney’s death, separated them physically, but truly Gene’s identity from Finney’s.
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.
I was in a competition with Finny in my own mind, but that was no reason to ruin him. I was always trying to beat him and that caused such a rage inside me that will never compare to anything because I wanted nothing more than to be him. He was almost perfect in every way and I was not, that never sat well with me. Things changed once he fell, he was dependent on me, and he needed me. It was so
Charlie first experiences people making fun of him, now that he has knowledge to understand that. This event must have hurt him deeply, because the very people he trusted and thought were his friends were actually mocking and making fun of him. He feels ashamed because people are using his name as an excuse for making mistakes, and he didn’t want to be known this way.
Gene begins to take all of Finny’s actions as deliberate sabotages because his envy was controlling him. Gene seemed like a weak character because of his jealousy. It made him seem like he wasn’t as good as Finny or that he was lacking personality or talent. Once the realization came to Gene that Finny indeed did not feel anything but love for him, everything changed. This is when all of the mixed emotions surfaced.
When most people think of envy, they think of a competition that pushes someone to improve themselves to be like another person. While it is true that envy can definitely have a positive impact, in A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the reality of envy is displayed when Gene hurts his best friend Finny. The overpowering feeling can take over a person and bring them suspicion that can cause them to commit poor actions leaving them damaged and changed forever. The first place we see this in the book is when Gene starts suspecting Finny of planning a master scheme to wreck his academic success.
Within the pages of A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, the main character Gene goes through a multitude of changes; in his life and in his being. Living at Devon, an all-boys private school in scenic New England, gives his changes even less room to grow and adapt in such a secluded environment. At the center of these dramatic changes is his relationship with his closest friend Finny. A tipping point in this relationship is when Gene makes the decision to “jounce the limb” of the tree he and Finny are standing on, causing Finny to fall and cripple himself.