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A Separate Peace: By John Knowles In A Separate Peace By John Knowles, The Story Takes Place During A Time Of War, But At Devon, An Exclusive New England Prep School, Two Friends Face A Greater War Of Their Own

1723 words - 7 pages


In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the story takes place during a time of war, but at Devon, an exclusive New England prep school, two friends face a greater war of their own. Gene Forrester is an introvert, much unlike his best friend and roommate Phineas, who he is intensely jealous of. Finny is friendly, loving, and popular. Throughout the novel Finny is portrayed as Gene's enemy; however, Gene's real enemy is himself.

Why would an enemy continuously praise and help someone they dislike? Phineas is nothing but a loyal friend to Gene. By definition, an enemy is one who feels hatred toward, intends injury to, or opposes the interests of another; however Finny ...view middle of the document...

In fact, Gene shows only his "like" for jumping out of the tree when Finny is trying to convince him to stay back and study, but Gene insists on coming: "Wait just a minute. I'm coming"(58). To Finny, this shows enthusiasm for the jump, there are no hints from Gene that he in any way detests the jump. Gene treats sports the same way. He acts enthusiastic about sports around Finny and never objects to participating in them. In reality, Gene is even more excited then Finny about him breaking the swim record that was set back in 1940. Gene is so excited that he wants to "get the coach in here, and all the official timekeepers and I'll call up The Devonian to send a reporter and a photographer-"(44). But before Gene is even able to finish his sentence, Finny cuts him off and quietly says "No, I just wanted to see if I could do it"(44). From Finny's point of view, he shares the same interests with Gene. Phineas is a good and loyal friend, but an enemy he is not.

Gene believes that Finny's defiance of the rules gets him in trouble, when in reality Gene's personality gets him into even more trouble. Throughout the novel Gene projects his feelings onto others causing him to lash out in violence. Finny's natural ability at sports, his good looks, and popularity make Gene crazy with enmity. Gene, who isn't much of an athlete, is an honor student who works hard for his grades. Phineas, on the other hand, is a natural born athlete and wins at everything. Gene longs to win awards like Finny, 'best this' and 'best that.' This need for attention and recognition causes Gene to want to be valedictorian. Gene believes that if he is head of his graduating class, this will make him even with Phineas. Finny's sarcastic statement: "I'd kill myself out of jealous envy"(52), makes Gene believe that they were even in enmity. Gene became quite a student after this. Before he had been a mediocre student, but now he is an exceptional one. Still believing, that all of this will make them even in the end; Gene is struck with a difficult truth to face, that Finny never has and never will be jealous of him. One night, while Gene is studying, Finny barges in, voicing that Leper will once and for all make the jump out of the tree. Gene demands that he must stay back at the room to study for his big exam tomorrow. This confuses Finny because he can not understand why anyone would want to study: "You want to study?"(57). Gene then changes his mind and insists on coming, but Phineas has also changed his mind and now wants Gene to stay and study. Finny then states "I didn't know you needed to study," he said simply, "I didn't think you ever did. I thought it just came to you"(58). Gene then realizes that Phineas was never jealous of him and never will be. After arguing about whether or not Gene should go or...

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