Books and Movies Reviews

A Separate Peace: Gene vs Phineas

In John Knowles' novel, A Separate Peace, Gene is portrayed as an average boy in high school. The novel takes place during World War II, when Gene is in summer school and the following school year. The story has very few characters, most of them being Gene's peers. Some of these characters include Leper, Brinker, Chet, Quackenbush, and Phineas. Phineas, or Finny for short, is Gene's best friend. He is the other main character of the story. The main focus of the story is the relationship between Gene and Finny. Gene's relationship with Finny slowly deteriorates because of his resentment and dependency on Finny, and his simultaneous love and hate of Finny.
First, Gene's resentment of Finny is one of the main reasons why their relationship in the story does not last. At the beginning of the story, the reader already gets the sense that Gene is jealous of Finny's athletic ability. One example of this is when Finny invents blitzball. “He had unconsciously invented a game which brought his own athletic gifts to their highest pitch…I never saw him tired, never really winded, never overcharged and never restless” (Knowles 31). This quote demonstrates how Gene is aware of Finny's athletic dominance over everyone else. One other thing Gene is jealous of is Finny's ability to get away with anything he does wrong. “It was hypnotism. I was beginning to see that Phineas could get away with anything. I couldn't help envying him that a little, which was perfectly normal. There was no harm in envying your best friend a little” (Knowles 18). In this quote, Gene resents Finny because he got away with wearing a pink shirt to school, and even Mr. Patch-Withers, the stern Summer Session Master, found Finny's antics very amusing. Although Gene does show his jealousy of Finny throughout the book, he also strives to be like him, and this causes him to have a dependency on Phineas.


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