A Separate Peace By John Finny's Tragic Flaw Essay

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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

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