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Learning Ones True Self Based On A Separate Peace By John Knowles

686 words - 3 pages

In the novella, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the narrator, Gene, expresses the hardships of leaving innocence of adolescence and merging into reality. During this journey, Gene’s lack of self-assurance leads him to jealousy towards his best friend, Phineas, also known as Finny. Through the eyes of Gene, Finny is portrayed as athletic, outgoing, and unpredictable; otherwise, everything Gene is not. Upon his return to Devon, Gene is reminded of the accident that occurred on the tree. Overwhelmed with jealousy and resentment, Gene jolts the limb of the tree, causing his best friend’s fall and development of uncertainty. Through use of point of view, metaphors, and irony, Knowles illustrates Gene’s search of self.
Through Gene’s point of view, the reader gains a sense of jealousy towards Finny and paranoia of Finny potentially having evil thoughts against Gene. Finny views Gene as his best friend and one whom he can trust. Finny possesses no evil thoughts towards Gene and seeks a friend whom he can believe and have fun with. Gene, however, does not have all the same feelings as Phineas, and instead hates more than loves Finny. In other words, Finny is his best friend, yet also his enemy. Although the reader is familiar with Gene’s feelings, Finny is unaware of the distress. This contributes to the conflict. For example, when Finny breaks the school swimming record, Gene tells Finny he is “too good to be true.” Although Gene seems proud of his best friend accomplishment, he envies him, falsely accusing he only did it to win fame. Because of this Gene utters, “used to finding something deadly in things that attracted [him]; there was always something deadly lurking in anything [he] wanted, anything [he] loved. And if it wasn’t there, as for example with Phineas, then [he] put it there [himself].” Gene fears Finny has an immoral side and will take his dream of being valedictorian away. This, mentally, breaks down Gene,...

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