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In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Gene is a teenage boy who attends a boys boarding school in New England with one of his only friends, Phineas. The author uses conflict to display competition and jealousy between Gene and Finny. In this story, there is an unusual friendship, between Gene, an intellectual, and Phineas, a handsome and popular athlete. Gene and Phineas formed an illusion of companionship, but there was always a silent rivalry between them in Gene’s mind.
Although they seem to be best friends, it always seems as if Gene was jealous of Phineas. Gene is lost within his own identity and finds comfort and relief in Finny’s identity. You know that their friendship is not a normal one when Gene purposely pushes his ‘best friend’ off of a tree to sabotage him. In the novel, Knowles describes the internal conflict within Gene.
The hatred in this book is focused inside Gene, the main character. Gene developed hatred and jealousy towards his friend and classmate Finny which is illustrated in the following line: “Finny could get away with anything.
I couldn’t help envying him…which was perfectly normal. There was no harm in envying even your best friend a little.”() Genes’ hatred and jealousy are uncontrollable and, inevitable. Gene thought this feeling towards Phineas was completely normal and it will go away in time.
However, as time went on and Gene matured he found out that his feeling was much more than little jealousy but it has turned into hate.
In chapter 2, as Finny is talking to a teacher, Gene realized that Finny is easygoing and has a good relationship with the teachers and people in general, and Gene says, ‘It was hypnotism. I was beginning to see that Phineas could get away with anything. I couldn’t help envying that a little.'(25). As the story develops, any reader can see that the jealousy that Gene has for Finny is becoming intense, and Gene is beginning to become intolerant of Phineas.
Gene merely can not manage the fact that Finny is so compassionate, so athletic, so perfect. As he put it, ‘Phineas could acquire away with anything.'(18), In order to protect himself from accepting Finny’s compassion, Gene creates a soundless competition with Finny and convinced himself that Finny is intentionally trying to destroy his school assignment. Gene decides he and Finny are covetous of each other, and everything becomes a competition.
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