Separate Peace

Separate Peace It was a hot and humid summer, while World War Two was in progress. The summer holidays was the time when all the friends were together at the Devon School. The students at this school were enjoying themselves either studying, doing leisure activities or just relaxing under the hot sun. One special group of friends usually played lacrosse throughout the summer but this activity became obsolete with newer things. Phineas the daring athlete told his group of friends to follow him. He led them to a tall tree by the river.

Phineas slowly climbed up the tree, not thinking about the height or the danger of falling from the tree. As Phineas stood on the branch, he jumped cautiously making a sharp dive into the muddy river. He encouraged the others to jump too, but everyone refused from great freight. Then Phineas really pressured Gene a lonely intellectual into jumping off the tree. Gene tried to refuse but he wasnt strong enough. Gene felt like he had no choice, so he climbed the tree and slowly jumped into the river once he was at the top.

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As he landed, he smiled and enjoyed the thrill of that experience. After Gene came out of the river he was praised by everyone around because of his bravery. Phineas and Gene were room mates at this all male school and their relationship as friends was getting stronger each day because Gene admired Phineas for his bravery and Phineas admired Gene because he listened to him. Phineas decided to make a club called the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session. Every night these members of the club met in a private area and they talked about the next day, sports, but mostly about the war.

Further on during the novel Gene became more like Phineas. Phineas was always late for classes and never serious which meant trouble. Phineas was against the fighting that was occurring over seas because many young men were dying. Finny a friend to Phineas and Gene was an excellent skier. The Army needed people like Finny, so Finny considered joining the war. This upset Phineas because he didnt want his friends or anyone to join the bloody war.

One day Gene and Phineas went to the tree again. As the two stood at the top of the tree, Gene pushed Phineas into the river. Instead of falling into the river, Phineas fell on the muddy ground beside the river. The next week Gene went to visit Phineas at the hospital. Phineas didnt feel that Gene was responsible for the fall that he had but Gene felt that he was.

Almost a month went by and Phineas came back to school. All his friends welcomed his return. That night the friends talked about the war, and Phineas couldnt take the opinions the others had about the war. He angrily stormed off with his crutches. As Phineas was going down the stairs, he fell and hurt his leg again.

Phineas was taken to the hospital. This time the Doctors had to amputate his leg. As the operation was under going Phineas heart stopped because he had too much morphine for his pains. At Phineas funeral Gene felt like he was responsible for Phineas death. Days had gone by and Gene wanted to get away from the Devon School, since it brought far too many bad memories.

He enlisted into the army to join Finny and many others.

Separate Peace

Separate Peace Gene Forrester’s difficult journey towards maturity and the adult world is a main focus of the novel, A Separate Peace, by John Knowles. Gene’s journey begins the moment he pushes Phineas from the tree and the process continues until he visits the tree fifteen years later. Throughout this time, Gene must become self-aware, face reality and the future, confront his problems, as well as forgive and accept the person that he is. With the jouncing of the limb, Gene realizes his problems and the true person he is inside. Fifteen years later, when revisiting the tree, he finally accepts and forgives himself. This journey is a long and painful one.

At the end of this long and winding road filled with ditches, difficulties and problems, Gene emerges a mature adult. Gene jounces the limb and causes Finny’s fall and at that moment becomes aware of his inner-self and learns of his true feelings. This revelation comes to him back in his room before he and Finny leave for the tree. It surrounds him with the shock of his true self until he finally reacts by jouncing the limb. Up in the tree, before the two friends are about to make their “double-jump”, Gene sees Finny in this new light. He realizes that Finny feels no jealousy or hatred towards him and that Finny is indeed perfect in every way.

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Gene becomes aware that only he is the jealous one. He learns of his animosity and that he really is a “savage underneath”. Over a long period of time Gene had been denying his feelings of hatred towards Finny, saying that it was normal for him to feel this way. Now all of the feelings come back to him and he sees how terrible he really is. The realization that these feelings are one-sided causes Gene to to fall dramatically in comparison to Finny (he paints himself black for these feelings and because Finny doesn’t share them, he puts a halo around Finny’s head), concludes with the neccessity for Finny to be brought down to his level, and results with Gene jouncing the limb.

After the realization of the person he truly is, in his room and up in the tree, Gene must now confront his problems, face reality, and deal with the future. He must learn that communication is very important in a relationship and that he must express himself instead of keeping his feelings inside, as he had always done with Finny. He must learn to listen to himself rather than to others. These were just a few of the many problems there were in his relationship with Finny. He must face reality and acknowledge the fact that he isn’t as great as Finny, that he is his own individual person and that Finny isn’t as perfect as he thought.

Gene must accept the guilt for Finny’s difficulties after his injury and must help Finny as a punishment and act of repentence for his deed. Gene does this by “giving a part of himself to Finny” as we see with the case of sports throughout the rest of the novel – how Gene “becomes” Finny when it comes to sports. Although the above are all of great importance, the greatest hurdle Gene must overcome is learning to live with what he’s done. This painful step is the one which will allow him to completely mature. The final stage of Gene’s maturation is his self-acceptence and self-forgivness. He has to accept that he isn’t perfect and that he, like any other normal being (even Finny), has faults. Accepting that his innocence has been lost helps Gene move on into another part of his life and realize that he can never return to the days of his innocent youth again.

He can now become a man, enter the war and adult world and leave his youth behind. Forgiving himself is the step which allows Gene to lead a normal life and enter society. He must finally forgive himself completely for his blind act and allow himself to “come in out of the rain”. By accepting as well as forgiving the person that he is, Gene enables himself to move on and join the adult world. Gene’s maturation is long, painful.

It is a painful and difficult process that reveals a darker side of Gene that he doesn’t neccessarily wish to see. However painful, Gene is made a better person during his maturation through his suffering. Through his pain and awful revalations about himself, Gene matures from an insecure child to a self-knowledgable adult.