Finny and Gene Comparison in A Separate Peace

Imagine a town. This town’s buildings were all the same and they looked identical to each other. The people living there all had perfect friendships and even acted the same way. Each person had the same morals and strived to be the same thing. The cars were the same and so on. Nothing would be different, would it? It is okay to have certain attributes alike with other people or things, but after a while someone will want to search for something- anything- that would make them stand out from the others. While Gene and Finny were both students at the Devon school, they individually had differences from personal interests to physical attributes that made them unique. Gene’s physical attributes did not reflect the stereotypical boy that the reader might picture, knowing the Southern region that he grew up in. Gene was a sixteen-year-old young man who had chestnut brown hair and tan skin. He was very lean, despite the fact that he didn’t play many sports.

He always wanted to follow the rules, even when his friends persuaded him to do otherwise. However, his low-self esteem prevented him from standing up for himself each time he wanted to back out of situations where he didn’t feel comfortable. This was seen throughout the book as Finny easily convinced him to do rebellious things he’d rather not do. Although Gene didn’t tend to show it, he was very jealous of his friend Finny- especially when his athletic abilities and strengths shone through. In a twisted way, the ongoing envy he developed for his friend drove Gene to want to be a part of Finny, to be more like him. Beneath his optimistic disguise, Gene had his own personal struggles that he kept to himself. Along with his continuous feelings of jealousy and anxiety, he had an identity crisis with not himself, but Finny. Gene’s admiration for his friend was so great that he eventually lost himself in Finny and felt as if he didn’t exist if he wasn’t around.

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On the other hand, Finny was a young student at Devon who had reddish-copper, tanned skin and strong muscles as a result of the sports in which he participated. He was raised in the bustling city of Boston. Because of the very little distance between his hometown and his school, he was already used to the atmosphere. He also had two characteristics that many people wish to have: easy ability to talk to people and flawless skills in athletics. Finny was an extraordinarily talented athlete and a charismatic student leader who earned the respect and admiration of the entire student body with his witty actions. Finny’s rebellious behavior often got him into trouble, but his charming ways ended up saving him from every boiling pot of trouble he put himself into. Instead of playing along the lines, he found it more fun and entertaining to be venturous and disobedient. When it came to Finny’s relationship with Gene, he could not imagine that his best friend might have envied his easy success as an athlete, nor did he suspect that his friend’s secret jealousy might suddenly erupt in violence. His actions were simply out of a natural enjoyment of life, without a trace of evil intent, which Gene failed to see. While Finny’s life seemed perfect, he too had many personal struggles; one of them being the inability to see the darkness in life.

Although this is also one of his strengths, this attribute leads to him to refuse ever thinking of Gene in a bad way. By assuming that everyone thought like he did, Finny developed a carefree, self-absorbed attitude that becomes one of the roots of Gene’s resentment toward him. He ends up building in Gene not only loyalty but also jealousy. Although the differences between them are easily seen, both Finny and Gene fought an internal war in which they had to make the transition from teenage innocence to the harsh realities of adult life.

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Finny and Gene Comparison in A Separate Peace. (2016, Dec 30). Retrieved from