A Separate Peace: Contrasting Gene and Phineas and the Struggle for Po

828 Words Oct 18th, 1999 4 Pages
A Separate Peace: Contrasting Gene and Phineas and the Struggle for Power

Julie Gibson

John Knowles' A Separate Peace depicts many examples of how power is used. In A Separate Peace, two opposing characters struggle for their own separate might. Gene Forrester, the reserved narrator, is weakened by his struggle for power. While, Phineas was inspired by his own power within. The novel conveys how peace can weaken or inspire during a mental war. Phineas, a natural rebel, is known as the best athlete in school. For example, he and three others come to look at a tree, which is considered among the Upper Middler students at Devon an impossibility. Phineas demonstrates his supreme power by stating that the tree is, indeed, a "cinch"
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Gene Forrester, after being gone for fifteen years, returns to the Devon
School to recollect his past memories of the summer session when he was sixteen years old. As stated before, Phineas was considered the best athlete in school, but Gene tried to compensate by being the best student in school. Gene's continuous competition with Phineas weakened his personality, hence causing
Gene's rebellion on Phineas. Gene begins to think that his purpose is "to become part of Phineas" (p.77). Phineas states that Gene has to play sports now for him. Then, Gene realizes that this must have been his purpose in pushing Phineas off the limb. He is to become part of him. Consequently, in wounding Phineas, Gene has brought Phineas down to his level or below it, so that Phineas will be partly dependent upon Gene and, in this way, Gene can become a part of Phineas' life. Nevertheless, in the beginning of the book, Gene describes the overwhelming feeling of jumping off the tree. It seemed as if he
"was throwing [his] life away" (p.9). It's ironic that Gene would say this because it symbolizes his life after Phineas' accident. The accident destroyed
Phineas' life and it took a part of Gene's life, too. His life totally and drastically is changed because Phineas is all he has. Without Phineas, he has no life nor personality. He and Phineas are one. His life is formless and void.
Gene developed a hatred for Phineas because of this reason.

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