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The Consequences Of Fear Essay

2662 words - 11 pages

As Yoda once said, "Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering." This is a dominant idea in John Knowles' A Separate Peace. The novel takes place during World War II and traces the time the main character, Gene, spends at a prep school called Devon . It is there that he meets and forms a strong love-hate relationship with a boy named Finny. The two become best friends, but Gene soon develops an intense jealousy of Finny. This is due to Gene's own insecurities, which are the fears he possesses of not being good enough. Gene carries many fears which are the root of the tragedies that later take place in the novel. In Knowles' A Separate Peace, Gene' s fear ultimately ...view middle of the document...

..for if Leper was a psycho it was the army which had done it to him, and I and all of us were on the brink of the army"(135). This is a rather terrifying notion. The war is most likely in Gene's future and he fears that he too will lose his sanity to the war. At war, and even in training for it, one witnesses awful things, things that are far from humanity. It forces men to act as monsters who kill with their commands as their only reasons. As Leper continues with his tales from being in the army, Gene can no longer take it. He cannot continue hearing of the excruciating ordeals that his future potentially holds. For this reason, he abruptly cuts Leper off, midsentence, and runs away: "I left Leper telling his story into the wind...I didn't want to hear any more of it. I had already heard too much"(143). Inevitably, he is overtaken by his immense fear of the war. He cannot continue to hear about it and he hurriedly escapes. The fact that he runs away is evidence enough to prove that he is afraid. It is only natural to run off due to fear. He is unable to even hear about the war, let alone be a part of it. Gene is also afraid of being himself. He has an ocean of insecurities so deep that he is rapidly drowning in them. It is because of these insecurities that he wants nothing more, than to be just like seemingly perfect, Finny. He is afraid that the person he is, is not good enough to withstand the world, and wishes to trade lives with someone else. He convinces himself that he is Phineas: "I was Phineas, Phineas to the life"(77). Someone who is self-content would never wish to be someone else. It is clear that Gene possesses serious confidence issues. The idea of being himself is too frightening for him to bear, so he pretends to be someone else.
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This tactic allows him to temporarily escape from the reality of having to face his true identity: "But it seemed, standing there in Finny's triumphant shirt, that I would never stumble through the confusions of my own character again"(54). Gene can escape his fear by convincing himself that he is Finny. He no longer has to stare down his imperfections and can feel self-assured. He is struggling with his own identity and fears any potential inadequacy. His colossal fear of his own self is far too powerful for him to overcome, so as a result he tries to be Finny.
Gene's many fears lead to his excessive anger. Gene becomes angry due to Finny's lack of fear. While jumping from the tree is a gigantic fear of Gene's, it seemingly comes rather easily for Finny. Finny dives off valiantly without showing the least amount of fear: "He of course saw nothing the slightest bit intimidating about it"(6). This builds up severe jealousy for Gene. This is because he wants nothing more than to be as excellent of an athlete as Finny, and he is unable to achieve this state of bravery. This jealousy boils inside him in the form of anger. The fact that Finny is popular and looked...

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