John Knowles novel, A Separate Peace Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 24 October 2016

John Knowles novel, A Separate Peace

In John Knowles novel, A Separate Peace, Knowles proves through an adolescent relationship, that in order to have a reliable friendship, one must accept another completely, revealing that jealousy can not co-excist within a friendship.

Jealousy plays a major role in the deterioration of the relationship between Gene and Finny. Gene has a growing jealousy towards his bestfriend Phineas. Because Finny always “gets away with everything” and can be whoever he wants to be, while Gene feels as if he is imprisoned within his own body (Knowles 28). The dangerous envy Gene feels towards Finny is eating away at his soul and is in no way healthy for the friendship, or Genes well being. Because of this jealousy, Gene can not fully accept Finny and his mischevious ways and fears to become inured to the fact that Phineas will always be better then him, all without noticing the breathtaking talents he himself possesses.

Knowles displays the friendship as a way to prove that jealousy can not only mentally but physically force one to do unthinkable and incomprehensible things to another. The jealousy Gene was hiding within his walls enventually broke and he “jounced the limb” making Phineas fall from the tree and break his leg (Knowles 60). Revealing that Genes competitive hatred towards Finny lead to unbelievable, malicious action to physically disable his friend. For though friendship is depended on one another, the balance between Gene and Phineas is unequal: Finny needed Gene to help him face adulthood, while Gene uses Finny as a constant comparison to his own hopeless life.

Knowles documents when jealousy collides with friendship and the fear of it becoming a reality, when it effects a loved one . In the article “A Separate peace: Four Decades of Critical Response”by Lois Rauch Gibson, Gibson analyzed Knowles and his perspective on jealousy. By jouncing Finny off of the limb, “Gene can rid himself.. of the evil within” (Gibson 5). Although ridding himself minimal of jealousy, his unkindly act forced Gene to be plunged into a new internal world war. With this new profound guilt he destroyed any feelings of affection he once has for Finny.

With a consistent feeling of jealousy throughout their friendship and in preparation for the war, Gene wrote : “i was on active duty all my time at school: I killed my enemy there” (Knowles 196). Revealing that instead of being able to embrace the friendship Finny has always offered, jealousy took over Gene, and eventually all the insecurity kills Finny. To accept each other completely Gene knew this jealousy could not excist within the relationship, he also knew the peace was always Finny, and with him no longer by his side; Gene was able to find his own separate peace.

Works Cited

Online: Gibson, Lois. “A Separate Peace: Four Decades of Critical Response.” E-article.

Kowles, John. A Separate Peace. New York: Scribner, 1959.

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  • Date: 24 October 2016

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