Theme Of Envy In A Separate Peace

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Envy creates tension in friendships and this trait is what leads to a lack of trust and end of the friendship. Envy can be healthy to an extent, but when envy overcomes rational thoughts it becomes unhealthy. When envy interjects itself between friends, it can lead to terrible events. A Separate Peace by John Knowles shows this fact throughout the story. In the novel A Separate Peace by John Knowles, envy leads to lack of trust, as illustrated through the thoughts, actions, and interactions of Gene and Finny. Gene’s thoughts have a great effect on the development of envy and lack of trust in Gene’s relationship with Finny. For example, Gene decides to lie to Finny after he visits him so he can leave, “Now I had to get out of there. There was…show more content…
For example, when Finny calls Gene his best friend, “‘I hope you’re have a pretty good time here. I know I kind of dragged you here at the point of a gun, but after all you can’t come to the shore with just anybody and you can’t come by yourself, and at this teen-age period in your life the proper person is your best pal.’ He hesitated, and then added, ‘which is what you are,’ and there was silence on his dune” (802). Here, Finny calls Gene his best friend, yet Gene is not able to say this back to him, even though it is true. Gene’s jealousy of Finny does not allow him to reciprocate this emotion for Finny, his pride gets in the way of him being able to have a friendship that is based around trust. The absence of trust in their friendship is what will ultimately tear them apart. Another instance where Gene’s interactions display his envy is when Finny is convincing him to climb on the tree. “I couldn’t stand this. We reached the other loitering around the base of the tree, and Phineas began exuberantly to throw off his clothes, delighted by the fading glow of the day, the challenge of the tree, the competitive tension of all of us. He lived and flourished in such moments. ‘Let’s go, you and me,’ he called. A new idea struck him. ‘We’ll go together, a double jump! Neat, eh?’” (810). Gene is jealous of Finny’s enthusiasm and ability to do things that Gene is scared of. Gene feels as if Finny does these things in spite of him, but in reality Finny is just an outgoing person. This misunderstanding and introjection that Gene creates leads to him breaking Finny’s leg, and their friendship. A Separate Peace by John Knowles displays the harsh reality that envy can create. It can destroy friendships and, in this particular instance, end lives. Envy is hardly ever a healthy thing, and it has to be balanced with rational thought, as illustrated in the novel. It leaves us with a question
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