Paranoia And Generosity In A Separate Peace By John Knowles

Superior Essays
Going through a self finding time in a person's life is normal, it is a long fight to become the person you want to be. For some, this process is easy, they simply know who they are. For others, they must fight through confusing feelings, self doubt and insecurities before they find themselves. In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the character Gene Forrester believes that his best friend (Finny) is his enemy, Gene’s own paranoia and jealousy causes him to be at war with himself. Finny’s generosity in forgiving Gene helps Gene understand that he can let his own guilt go and find his separate peace. As Gene's jealous feelings for Finny grow, he tries to hide and compress them. But it is detected that Gene looks more at Finny as his enemy than …show more content…
As he looks to excuse his jealousy towards Finny, Gene reflects on their friendship. He then decides that Finny has always been working against him. He starts to lose himself in his own mind and assumes that Finny’s friendship and love is fake and a trick. He states, “Finny had deliberately set out to wreck my studies” and “The way I believed that you’re-my-best-friend blabber!” (53). 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. Gene’s immature and volatile thoughts led him to do such an immoral action, causing a domino effect which broke his separate peace and eventually all his friends’ separate peace as well. Somehow, Finny is able to push past what Gene did, he …show more content…
Finny had forgiven him, loved him, and even comforted Gene after finding out about what Gene did to him. After his death, Gene realizes how terrible of a person he is and how he took Finny’s friendship for granted. He goes on to explain how Finny was different from the rest of his friends, how truly special Finny was. He states, “All of them except Phineas, constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy who never attacked that way” (204). Finny didn’t make people into his enemies. He didn’t look for a competitor, or ache to be someone who was better than him at something. Finny was generous and forgiving, Gene realizes how naive he was to ever believe such an evil hatred could inhabit Finny. During the last chapter an older, a more mature, and wise Gene goes to war; he then explains that, during his time in the military, he is never active duty in the World War. He says, “Because my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there” (204). Gene was fighting a war with himself throughout the whole book and by the end Gene was able to “kill” his enemy which is the naive, paranoid, and volatile part of his personality. Finally being able to gain his peace back, knowing that Finny is at peace

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