Kaela RuizOctober 24th, 2009 English II, Green, 5th A Separate Peace –Literary Analysis Introduction: John Knowles writes a riveting novel titled A Separate Peace (1960). John tells the tale of Gene and Finny’s coming of age during World War II in New England at a all boys school . But most importantly how jealousy can change friendship, maturity, and mortality. Plot Summary: Gene’s jealousy blinds him into believing pushing his best friend Finny off a tree is just what he deserves. Once the fog of envy disappears Gene instantly feels regretful.
At first Finny tries to deny the fact that Gene his best friend just pushed him off the limb, but he can‘t run from the truth forever. But just when it seems Gene and Finny can carry on with their friendship tragedy strikes again with a final blow and Finny is gone…for good. Jealousy is just one of a slew of negative emotions in A Separate Peace. What makes these feelings so difficult is that they’re accompanied by admiration, respect, and love – all the ingredients for one very confusing friendship between adolescent boys.
We see that jealousy drives people to unthinkable actions, understood least of all by those responsible for it. It becomes apparent in only the second chapter that Gene is extremely jealous of Finny “Phineas could get away with anything”(Knowles 25) he later goes on to admit “I couldn’t help envying him”(Knowles 25). The unhealthy thing about Gene’s jealousy is that he wanted his best friend to get caught, punished, anything so people wouldn’t think of him as some sort of perfectionist. “he wasn’t getting away with it”(Knowles 27).
But as fate would have it “Phineas was going to get away” (Knowles 28). This jealousy grows and finds new things to envy about Finny, subconsciously Gene knew he would be able to get even, but we wasn’t prepared for how soon that would be. When Finny and Gene are in the tree, I can only imagine all the thoughts flying through Gene’s head in that single second before he pushed Finny. The first obvious thing raging through his system was be the immense jealousy. The second would be genius, and just how easy it would be to knock Finny off the limb and finally get even with him.
The reason why Gene’s jealousy was so dangerous and pushed Gene this far out into to the deep end, was that it had built up over time, and continued building until the second after Gene pushed Finny off the tree. In that second Gene felt complete release, because “now I knew that there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us”(Knowles 59). And then two seconds after Gene pushed Finny he was overcome with an even more crippling emotion…Guilt. Though the guilt never subsides, it only waxes and wanes depending on the point in the book. Gene still finds things to envy about Finny.
After Finny dies, Gene has a monologue about his life “He possessed an extra vigor…nothing had broken his unity”(Knowles 202). It may have meant to be a friendly memory of Finny, but to me it still sounded like Gene was jealous. Gene was jealous of the way Finny carried himself through school, breaking his leg, life, and even death. It was almost like Finny escaped death just as easily as he escaped trouble. Dying as peacefully as he did, with his and Gene’s conflict resolved, along with Confronting and over coming his frustration about not being able to join the army. parts 4-7 coming soon to a page near you!