A Separate Peace By John Finny's Tragic Flaw Essay

Better Essays
In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Finny is in denial of Gene’s dark nature, and of him actually causing his accident by jouncing the limb. He does not want it to be the truth so he disregards the truth for as long as he can because he only sees the goodness in Gene. Finny also denies that World War II is actually going on. He denies this for two reasons: his heart is so big that evening thinking about a war going on hurts too much, and because he feels that his life is incomplete without fighting. He tries to make his own fantasy of a perfect world when in reality there are many problems. Finny’s tragic flaw is unique because it is his idealized morality of goodness that prevents him from seeing the truth about people and the world. Ultimately …show more content…
When Finny is in his bed at the infirmary, he tells Gene: “I’ll hate it everywhere if I’m not in this war! Why do you think I kept saying there wasn’t any war all winter? I was going to keep on saying it until two seconds after I got a letter from Ottawa or Chungking or some place saying, ‘Yes, you can enlist with us.’” (190). Finny finally admits that he knew there was a war and that he wanted to play some part in it. This shows he is admitting reality, and learning the truth is too much for him to take. Finny was denying World War II because he made up his own reality that is perfect; he creates his own version of reality. He is dependent on his denial, and since the war threatened to pull him out of his fantasy world, he delved farther into it. Also, Finny was denying the war because the thought of him not being able to serve in the war was too troubling for him. His life would be unbearable if he could not be in the war, and he finally stopped denying the war once he got a letter from some random place saying that he could finally serve. However, Like Gene, Finny would not even be able to be a soldier if he enlisted because he is such a pure, noble person. He could not even kill a soldier who was fighting to advance causes that could potentially kill millions of people. A few moments after this, Finny confronts Gene about what really happened up there in the tree. Finny remarks, “It was just some kind of blind impulse you had in the tree there, you didn’t know what you were doing. Was that it?” (191). This quote also shows Finny accepting reality because he finally understands what made Gene jounce the limb of the tree: his dark nature. By grasping the fact that Gene has a dark side to him, it helped him understand why Gene did what he did. But, learning this

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Gene has started to become so paranoid that it becomes very obvious that he is overthinking the friendship and that there is no way Finny could have such evil intentions. All Finny seems to want to do is hang out around Gene and be best pals, but Gene foolishly convinced himself that they are nothing but sworn enemies. Later, hatred and resentment of Finny builds up. Finny and Gene are in the tree together when Gene explains, “Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb” (60). The paranoia streaming through his mind, his hatred and jealousy of Finny made him so evil as to cause his closest friend to lose his balance and plummet from the tall tree.…

    • 1255 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    People don’t think of heroes as being psychologically damaged, so his character shows that war doesn’t breed heroes it creates a catastrophe. People can’t begin to understand a situation unless they emerge themselves in those circumstances and even then a subject like war will always be hazy. Bowker’s resentment shows when he talks about soldiers getting their “back clapped by a bunch of patriotic idiots who don’t know jack about what it feels like to kill people… or watch your buddy go down underneath the mud”(150). Bowker doesn’t feel pride for the actions taken during the war and would much rather have his friend Kiowa than some pointless medal. It is impossible to begin to understand what soldiers went through, making them not the ideal heroes.…

    • 1341 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    But unlike Phineas, Gene is hesitant to tell Phineas the same back. This shows that Gene is not a true friend because he’s reluctant to share a deeper feeling to Finny. Because Gene is naive to the idea of a true friendship, he keeps his feelings to himself which will lead him to jouncing the limb. He jounces the limb because he believed Finny was “...out to wreck [his] studies” (53). Instead of confronting Finny with these feeling he decides to keep it to himself which causes him to be angry and that anger overtook his proper judgement which was the leading cause of the jouncing the limb.If Gene opened himself up to Finny this accident could have been…

    • 804 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    John thought that he would be sinning again if he confessed to a lie just to save himself. Ever since his affair he thought that he was a no good man and sinning even more would improve his himself and his soul; he wouldn’t go from bad to good, he’d still be just as bad. He sacrificed his life as a way to redeem himself. Elizabeth tried to convince him to sign the paper but he told her “My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man. Nothing’s spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long before” (136).…

    • 1272 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    One of the guards, who was nicer than the rest, said to Ellie, “Don’t give your father any more of your rations. He will not last much longer but you have a chance of survival. That night Ellie’s father dies while he was sleeping next to Ellie. Ellie knew if he cried he would be killed so he had to pretend that nothing had happened and go on with his life. After his father died the only thing Ellie cared about was food and getting food to eat.…

    • 1405 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    However, in real life, Tim did not work in any place like this. This raises the question of why he would add this into the story. Earlier in the story the narrator came up with the excuse that since he hated blood he shouldn’t have to fight in the war. The narrator’s job proves that he was just coming up with lies in an attempt to get himself out of the war. Tim may have added in this factor to show the reader that the narrator was coming up with unjustified reasons for why he couldn’t fight.…

    • 901 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The fear of not being successful in a journey, backed up by stories of unsuccessful journeys causes Santiago to wonder if it is even worth trying in the first place. But, he must conquer this fear because all the ‘what-ifs’ will not do anything but slow him down and make his heart more confused. Second, the fear of emptiness in life after a dream is achieved causes the crystal merchant to not pursue his dream at all. The crystal merchant blames this on the fact that “it [is] the thought of Mecca that keeps [him] alive…[He] [is] afraid that if [his] dream is realized, [He] [will] have no reason to go on living” (Coelho 61). The crystal merchant assumes that the dream is what keeps him alive but does not know exactly what the outcome is, if he does go to Mecca because it is all in the future.…

    • 857 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    It wasn’t fair for him to have to fight in a war that he didn’t think his country should be in. He came dreadfully close to fleeing, but his need for social acceptance stopped him. He was more afraid of what his parents and friends would think of him than he was of the war. It’s hard for me to imagine being that worried about other people’s expectations. I pride myself on not caring about what people think of me, so it seems ridiculous for someone else’s opinion to dictate whether or not O’Brien and the other soldiers go to war.…

    • 1828 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Cross wasn 't ready to go to war. It seemed that he didn 't really want to be in the war, but something convinced his to sign up. He definitely wasn 't ready to hold the responsibility of his men 's lives. Proof of that is when Cross started freaking out after Ted Lavender was shot. Cross told himself that it was his fault because he was busy daydreaming about Martha instead of looking out for his men.…

    • 1066 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    “The whole point of tonight was to get you here safely.” Harry wants to keep himself away from others because he doesn’t want to endanger them. But he’s blinded from their persistence to protect him. Harry knows they’re all trying to help, but he doesn’t understand why. Hermione, the Weasley family, Hagrid, etc. risk their lives to save Harry because they love him, they can’t let him succumb to the darkness of Voldemort, because if Harry were to die, it would be like losing a piece of themselves.…

    • 1110 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays