Gene Forrester's Expectation In John Knowles A Separate Peace

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Envy is ignorance; imitation is suicide” (370). If this is the case, then how does it apply to John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, set in 1940’s New Hampshire? In the novel, Gene Forrester’s envy and imitation of Phineas lead him to sacrifice his individuality. In A Separate Peace Gene Forrester returns to his time at Devon to examine how his envy and imitation cause him to make courageous and impulsive decisions, to establish his and Finny’s role in their friendship, and to reflect on his achievement of peace. Gene’s spite and imitation affect him on both a mental and emotional level. Gene is so ensnared with Finny that it makes him impulsively courageous. An example of Gene’s courage is, “every time, when I get myself into position to jump, I felt a rush of…show more content…
Gene is freed of the hatred and jealously that plagued him when Finny was alive. With his new viewpoint on life Gene states, “I was ready for the war, now that I no longer had any hatred to contribute to it. My fury was gone, I felt it gone, dried up at the source, withered and lifeless. Phineas had absorbed it and taken it with him, and I was rid of it forever” (Knowles 203). This quote supports the idea that with the death of Finny, Gene was able to think and act without enmity. Gene startsto become more like Finny by seeing the world with the same kindness and naivety as Phineas once did. Gene battles his enemy and is triumphant in his internal war. Gene achieves his inner peace,” only after fighting one’s own, private war of growing up. In this sense, the war is symbolic also of the inner struggle from adolescence to maturity” (Alton). The information asserts the idea that Gene’s true battle is growing up. It also confirms that fighting an inner battle can be the key to achieving a new outlook on life. In the end Gene sees himself as an extension of Phineas and lives with his view of the
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