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A Separate Peace: The Allegorical Characters Representing The Universal Truth Of Human Being

1350 words - 6 pages

Throughout the novel A Separate Peace, John Knowles establishes a universal truth of human qualities using allegorical characters, Gene and Finny. Their final year in Devon was fortunate, but also devastating from the fear of enlisting to World War 2. Knowles developed Gene and Finny’s journey in school as an extended metaphor, comparing it to the gradual loss of innocence and the idea of ignorance creating the emotional, non-physical war. In the beginning of the year, Devon was full of innocence and it was a time of enjoyment for the students there. However, as the reality of war became more understandable for the students in Devon, their innocence began to fall off; thus, Gene becoming more matured. Despite the fact that Gene gradually matured, Finny kept displaying his innocence and selfishness until the end when he dies. During this year, Gene convinced himself that he has to excel Finny in every activity such as education, but because he assumed that Finny was trying to bring him down, he jounces the branch and shattered Finny’s leg. After this cruel accident, created by Gene’s jealousy and insecurity, they both tried to become a part of each other and in fact strengthening their friendship. Through John Knowles use of characterization and development of the allegorical characters Gene and Finny, he establishes the universal truth of losing innocence and the reality that enemies are created by the reflection of jealousy and ignorance in human heart.
In the chapters when Gene started to develop jealousy towards Finny, Gene represented the evil qualities of human being. Because of his envy and insecurity, he was only able to see the negative characteristics of Finny. Everything Finny performed, he took it personally as if Finny was trying to bring him down. Therefore, Gene’s ignorance mistakenly produced the personal enemy. “I was beginning to see that Phineas could get away with anything. I couldn't help envying him that a little, which was perfectly normal. There was no harm in envying even your best friend a little” (Knowles 25). This was the starting point of his evil qualities, such as jealousy, although it has not developed to the dangerous point yet. The dictions “perfectly normal,” expresses his approving tone for Finny. However, as time passed, Gene continuously
recognizes Finny’s extraordinary skills in sports and social contribution, developing his jealousy. “Was he trying to impress me or something? Not tell anybody? When he had broken a school record without a day of practice? I knew he was serious about it, so I didn't tell anybody. Perhaps for that reason his accomplishment took root in my mind and grew rapidly in the darkness where I was forced to hide it” (Knowles 44). The author emphasizes Gene’s evil quality through his usage of continuous questions. This structure intensifies the anxious tone of Gene; thus sensing the intenseness of Gene’s jealousy. The word “darkness” establishes the dangerous mood for the readers and...

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