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In The Novel "A Separate Peace", By John Knowles.

1117 words - 4 pages

PoiseIn the novel A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, the protagonist Gene Forrester matures through three stages of his life at a New Hampshire prep school. At the beginning of the story, Gene is insecure and jealous of his charismatic friend, Phineas. Later in the tale, Gene's obsession with Phineas, or more often referred to as Finny, causes Gene to obtain Finny's identity after a tragic accident in which Gene disables Finny. At the end of the book, Gene's brief stay at Devon School transforms him into a self-assured, mature young man. Through all of the events in the novel, Gene learns one must be comfortable with himself to live a happy life and achieve a "Separate Peace."To start, envy and animosity devour Gene. First, as Finny apparently is just about to be disciplined for improper dress and attempts to lie in order to save himself, Gene feels content that his friend will be in trouble. He thinks, "This time he wasn't going to get away with it. I could feel myself becoming unexpectedly excited at that" (20). Normally one friend would not like to see the other in strife, but due to Gene's jealousy, he desires his God-like image of Finny to be invalidated. Gene's lack of empathy towards his alleged best friend builds up to a violent climax due to his longing for Finny's demise. Furthermore, Gene begins to be preoccupied with his thoughts of inferiority compared to Finny. After Finny is polite towards Gene, Gene misinterprets Finny's action and draws a false conclusion. He states, "Because it was what you had in your heart that counted. And I detected that Finny's was a den of lonely, selfish ambition. He was no better than I was, no matter who won all the contests" (48). This defense mechanism demonstrates a false rivalry between Gene and Finny. Gene's need for more achievement then Finny shows Gene's insecurity in that he feels he should exceed his best friend in all walks of life, even though it is not a competition. Lastly, Gene submits to Finny in Gene's fabricated rivalry. While walking to the Devon River for recreational purposes, Gene mentally succumbs to Finny. Gene says, "I was not of the same quality as he" (51). Although imaginary, Finny's triumph over Gene turns him into a paranoid adolescent whose anxiety overwhelms the rest of his life. Now potentially hostile, Gene looks to harm his new adversary. To sum up, Gene's perpetual jealousy and fictitious opposition are originally signs of an immature, insecure adolescent that is almost certainly dangerous to his so-called friend.As the story progresses, Gene immobilizes Finny by making him fall out of a tree and tries to acquire Finny's character. Initially, Gene attempts to be Finny in a physical manner. With Finny absent, recuperating from the injuries that Gene caused, Gene puts on Finny's clothes. Gene contemplates, "But when I looked in the mirror it was no remote aristocrat I had become, no character out of daydreams. I was Phineas, Phineas to the life" (54). With Gene...

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