A Separate Peace Critical Analysis

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One argument from Maslow’s essay “The Need to Know and the Fear of Knowing” which directly relates to A Separate Peace is that one often evades knowledge of their true selves. Although Phineas’s nonchalant and loyal characteristics make him seem almost godlike, he seems to also fear certain aspects of himself. In particular, he has a fear that his basic desires contradict the innocent person everyone perceives him to be. For many of the students at the Devon school, the war seems almost fictional, partially because of the attitudes of people such as Finny. Finny’s ignorance of the rules, yet simultaneous loyalty and sincerity, made him seem innocent despite the trouble he got himself into. This innocence created a peaceful atmosphere around Devon, which most likely pressured Phineas out of doing things such as openly boasting about his …show more content…
This can definitely be applied to Phineas, as he often made himself vulnerable to Gene. For example, he told Gene that he was his “best pal,” which made him vulnerable emotionally (Knowles 48). If Gene had expressed the same vulnerability, both him and Phineas could have benefited from a healthy relationship. However, Gene was too ashamed and afraid of revealing his jealousy to Phineas, and as a result he hindered his relationship with Finny as well as hindering his personal growth. His lack of personal growth is made clear in the beginning of the novel since he is disappointed by the fact that Devon seemed to have been preserved with “varnish and wax” since this reminded him that he, similarly to the Devon school, had barely changed over the years (Knowles 10). Gene goes on to say that he had only become “older,” “bigger,” and “taller” but had never really convalesced (Knowles 22). Clearly vulnerability played some role in the growth of the characters in A Separate Peace, or the lack

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