The two boys become close friends, but throughout their friendship Gene is jealous of Finny. Gene excels in academics, while Finny is fun and great athlete. Finny is the leader in the friendship and Gene feels that Finny is very controlling almost bullying him. Gene and Finny are both competitive, but Genes thinks that Finny wants to compete with him in everything. Gene is the protagonist in the story due to his competitive nature and his jealousy of Finny.
This is a keypoint in the novel which showed Gene at his lowest point where he let his emotions get the bestof him. Throughout the rest of the book Knowles keeps stating Gene’s thoughts of regret andFinny’s disbelief of the situation. In a true friendship, if one was feeling a great amount jealousy,one would most likely talk it through or at least think through the situation instead of trying tocause physical harm to them.Once summer session is over, Brinker Hadley comes into the two boys room unaware ofFinny’s return and asks Gene if he is ready to enlist which they talked about prior to Finny’sreturn. Finny who wanted nothing more to be able to enlist was thinking about losing his bestfriend but reacted differently. He kind of shook it off and went to shower.
They are supposed to be best friends, but Gene envies him and thinks he is trying to make him look bad. After Finny’s accident, Gene struggled with guilt and his life was changed because of it. “I spent as much time as I could alone in our room, trying to empty my mind of every thought, to forget where I was, even who I was. One evening when I was dressing for dinner in this numbed frame of mind, an idea occurred to me, the first with any energy behind it since Finny fell from the tree. I decided to put on his clothes” (Knowles 29).
Finny is the athletic one, the best athlete in school even. Also he is handsome and is easy to get along with. As the boys stay close, Finny starts having Gene play more games, so that means less time for Gene to study for school. One day Gene wakes up at dawn on the beach with Finny. He immediately realizes that he has an exam at ten am, so he tells Finny that they need to
“He had never been jealous of me for a second. Now I knew that there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us. I was not of the same quality as he.“ (page 59). Gene wanted Finny to care about Gene and have a concern if Gene was going to beat him in sports, Gene had issues when facing Finny’s confidence. Therefore, Gene always tried to make Finny jealous and that pushed him to hurt him in the
Was he getting some sort of hold over me?” (Knowles 17). He is basically, through rhetorical questions, saying that he does not want to do what Finny does, but it’s like he cannot help it. This is affecting who Gene is as a person because he is not thinking for himself. Is Gene really even himself if Finny is doing the thinking for him? If he is not thinking for himself, he is not being true to himself.
Gene sees his “friend” Finny almost as an enemy or rival because he is so envious of his friend. Knowles uses characterization of Gene to show that he is envious which develops the theme one’s friendship with another may lead to the feeling of envy based on how much one friend is better than the other. Gene first envious in his thoughts. He was jealous at how Finny was able to talk his way out of trouble. It was hypnotism.
The envy, took over Gene and Gene realizes later that all of the incidents with Finny could have been avoided. Gene’s greed took over him, now Gene will try his hardest to relieve some of the pain of losing his best friend, knowing he is the culprit. Gene lost his best friend, he will never Forgive himself, never will find
Since he strives to be like Finny, Gene does everything in his power to shove down his feelings of hatred and jealousy. After Finny beat the school swimming record, Gene suspiciously asks himself why Finny did not want him to share the news with anyone else. Because Finny refused to tell anyone, but Gene, about his record-breaking achievement, Gene is baffled as to why Finny would not want to. It seems as though Gene is imagining himself in Finny’s shoes as he mentions, “Was he trying to impress me or something? Not tell anybody?
The real meaning of A Separate Peace lies in the title, it also goes along with Emerson’s quote “envy is ignorance; imitation is suicide.” A Separate Peace was written by John Knowles in 1960. The novel is about two young boys that were best friends, but their friendship went downhill because of envy and imitation. One of the main characters and narrator of the novel is gene, he’s having a flashback about his days at Devon School and how they led to the present day. Throughout the book Gene is struggling to be find his own identity as he depends on his best friend (Finny) for everything. A Separate Peace demonstrates Gene’s easily detectable envy and imitation of Finny and how it affects their friendship.