A Separate Peace Essay, Research Paper
Difference Too Often Leads to Hate
Many times in the world, differences have lead to hate. Think of Martin Luther King, for example, who stood for fighting against one of the largest differences. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, is one of many examples of differences leading to hate. Gene and Finny, who somehow managed to become friends, have completely different views of each other. Finny wanted to be friends with Gene, but had trouble facing the reality that Gene felt differently. Gene became jealous over Finny?s difference to himself. Difference has led to hate, once more, and pain has again resulted, first mentally and emotionally, then finally physically.
Knowles creates Gene as one who always is strictly trying to comply with the rules and regulations, always obeying his superiors; completely different then that of Finny?s personality. "Over your head? Pink! It makes you look like a fairy!" (909). Considering such, he envies Finny, because Finny can ?get away with murder? if he wanted to, and can stay out of trouble doing so. "Phineas could get away with anything. I couldn?t help envying him?a little" (909). Knowles shows how much jealousy Gene had over Finny? s ability to stay out of trouble, no matter what he did. "This time he wasn?t going to get away with it." (909). He would rather be in accordance to the rules and be on his best behavior, than to be a rebel who goes against everything. Finny, on the other hand was more of a rebel. "I wonder what would happen if I looked like a fairy to everyone." (909). Finny, more of a rebel, is very outgoing; he, however shows himself off as a perfect individual. One day at Devon, he gets into small dispute because he wore the school tie as a belt. This he frees himself from quickly, explaining, "It goes with the shirt and it all ties together?with what we?ve been talking about, this bombing in Central Europe." (910). Complying with not only Devon?s rules and regulations, but also the standards of formal conduct, Gene has a strong instinct to follow order, guided by careful thought, which Knowles has implanted in him, throughout the text.
Gene is a person who thinks before he acts. "What was I doing up here anyway? Why did I let Finny talk me into stupid things like this?" (906). He is an individualist with distinct and well-thought characteristics. "As we walked rapidly along I abruptly resented the bell and my West Point stride and hurrying and conforming." (907). Furthermore, Gene is at this point still friends with Finny, and tries to think of a clever way to appease him. "I threw my hip against his, catching him by surprise, and he was instantly down, definitely pleased." (907). When Phineas proposes the idea of jumping off a tall tree into the river, Gene hesitates to follow. "The tree was tremendous?I was darned if I?d climb it?No one but Phineas could think up such a crazy idea?He saw nothing intimidating about it?He wouldn?t admit it if he had. Not Phineas." (904,905). Finny, on the other hand, acts before he thinks; for example, in that same place in the story where Gene thinks about jumping the tree, Finny gets a sudden urge to jump from the tree, and so he does. Although Gene may think his actions clearly, he does not like to express his emotions directly.
In another scene of the story, Knowles has Finny say that Gene and he are best friends, as an example, and Gene has trouble expressing his true emotions on the matter. "I should have told him then that he was my best friend also and rounded off what he had said. I started to; I nearly did. But something held me back." (918). Gene is a person who is dissatisfied with his life and wants to set up an ideal person. "Anyway?somebody?s got to be the head of the class." (920). Finny on the other hand is athletic, satisfied with himself, and moves with perfect coordination. "I thought I was going to do it. It felt as though I had a stop watch in my head and I could hear myself going just a bit faster than A. Hopkins Parker." (917). Finny does things that no one ever thinks to do, such as coming up with “Blitz Ball." (913-914). He made up the rules as he went along. He likes to be in complete control of everything. He likes to be the best that he can. He likes being in difficult situations to see if he can get out of it, showing his ability to express himself. Finny, one day wears his school tie as a belt, but he easily solves of this problem by explaining that he did it to show the link between Devon and the war. (909-910). Finny, a natural person who shows himself to being incapable of doing something mean or ugly, has no trouble expressing his emotions openly. He responds to life with natural emotions and everything comes easy to him (except studying). He does not have emotions such as envy for people or jealousy. Gene, on the other hand, is jealous of Finny?s abilities. To appease his jealousy, Gene pushes Finny out of the tree, which eventually winds up in Finny?s death.
Difference has led to hate, once more, and pain, both emotionally and physically has again resulted, first mentally and emotionally, then finally physically; however, this time it is no longer just pain, but death that has resulted. The differences of Gene and Finny are vast, and their combination has lead Finny?s death, because they could not work out their problems with each other. If not only Gene, but also all of humankind would work out his or her differences, so many saved lives can result, and much of the extreme hate will cool down, and be under control.
1. Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. Elements of Literature: Fourth Course. Austin: Holt, Rinehert, 1993. 901-982.