"A Separate Peace" Analysis

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Can one live in the illusion they create for themselves in an attempt to escape the realities of their life choices? In the book, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the main character inadvertently injures his best friend and does not confess to it. Gene is the main character and narrator. He narrates the story through a flashback while visiting the school he went to with his best friend. Gene is a very intelligent young man, however he has the tendency to over evaluate situations. His best friend Phineas, or Finny, is the opposite he acts on impulse and is a excellent athlete. This approach to situations Gene takes leads him to the conclusion that his best friend, Finny, is attempting to decimate his academic goals. This thought takes Gene down the path of jealousy and the idea of avenging himself. A day comes when Finny asks Gene to join him atop the tree the army uses for training. Finny wants to do a double jump with Gene. However when they are both upon the branch extending from the tree, Gene performs an action involuntarily, unintentionally, and for the first time without thinking about it. He jounces the limb causing Finny to fall. This accident takes away the ability that made Finny so spectacular. The accident ruins his leg and Finny will never again take part in sports again. The accident creates a turmoil of emotions inside Gene. He does not want Finny to know the truth, but the act of lying is robbing Gene of his conscious. Eventually the revelation of the truth drives Finny away from Gene. In his attempt to escape the cruelty of accepting his best friends hatred toward him he falls down the stairs and again brakes his leg. In the end Finny dies from trying to escape. As the doctor attempts to fix his broken leg, the p...

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... confident he will be able to heal Finny's leg without aid or assistance. Unfortunately an error uncorrectable befalls Finny and he cannot survive this ordeal, and the repercussions of the truth being forced onto Finny, result in his death. If Gene had told Finny himself what had happened then Finny would not have had this accident, and therefore would not have been cut out of life when his influence was still wanted.

So although confessing would have hurt Finny's feelings, it would have cleared Gene's conscious, awoken Finny to reality, and ultimately saved Finny's life. These facts all support the idea that Gene confessing to Finny would have developed both these characters lives differently and inevitably more successfully and happily. Gene never truly understands his own feelings toward Finny. Whether they be jealousy, or brotherhood, they are undeniably strong.
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