A Separate Peace Essay

1675 words - 7 pages

Every child is born innocent. None of us are ever brought into this world knowledgeable about the trails and atrocities we will inevitably have to encounter. We see the world as a good place with no wrongdoing, full of opportunity. As the character Leper in A Separate Peace says, "everything has to evolve or else it perishes" (117). Leper's words point out that as we grow up, we slowly begin, to see the world's harsh realities. There are two outcomes to this realization. We can accept the world's imperfections, mature and go on, or we can avoid and reject our disappointing knowledge and hold on to naïve views. Leper's words are true in "A Turn With the Sun", by John Knowles, as well as in A Separate Peace, also by John Knowles, two books in which the characters Gene and Laurence have different approaches to life. Gene progresses, grows emotionally throughout the book, and in the end, lives on. Laurence, on the other hand, is a sticks to his own naïve thoughts of the world and perishesAs we first meet the character Gene, he is a naïve follower. He is the reserved type that is fairly athletic and rather studious. His best friend, Finny is his alter ego. Throughout the start of the book Gene bases his actions solely on Finny's personal ideals. He goes along with whatever Finny says and wants so much to please him, that he often stifles his own personal opinions to do so. One example of this is shown when Gene wants to make it to dinner on time. He says," 'We'd better hurry or we'll be late'" (11). Finny's sarcastic response to this is " 'better hurry or they'll put you in the guard house' " (11). After this one nearly meaningless sentence by Finny, Gene immediately changes his outlook, " I abruptly resented the bell and my his west point stride, hurrying and conforming. Finny was right" (11). Because Finny wants it so, Gene skips dinner. This is the first example shown of Gene's conformity. It sets the foundation for other such actions later to come. Another prime example of Gene's complaisant nature is shown when Finny wants him to jump from the limb of the tree into the river. Gene apparently does not want to do this, yet "with the sensation I was throwing my life away, I jump into space"(9). All this, just for the sake of pleasing his influential friend, Finny. Gene's need for Finny's approval places rigid boundaries on what he feels he can and cannot do. At this point in the novel, Finny is like Gene's backbone, supporting him and urging him to try new things. Gene's dependency on Finny gives him short-lived support but ultimately weakens him as a person, in that he feels he cannot, or is too weak, to partake in any activities without Finny's aid.For a time, Gene places Finny up on a pedestal, in awe of all he does. Yet Gene by nature is competitive. He is overcome by the natural human emotion of jealousy. In Gene's case, this jealousy is manifested and drives him to a brutal act that breaks Finny's leg. By pushing Finny out of...

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