Negative Peer Pressure Depicted in Knowles' A Separate Peace and Plath's Initiation

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“To follow or not to follow?” is the conflict of both A Separate Peace by John Knowles and Initiation by Sylvia Plath. Each main character must choose what action to take; however, it is the way they choose that sets these stories apart. Different examples of conformity in each book yield different results, showing readers potential outcomes of decision making.

In a Separate Peace, the main character, Gene Forrester, is constantly pressured into rebelling against the school rules by his best friend Phineas, or “Finny”. Throughout the story it is obvious that Gene is jealous of his friend and therefore succumbs to the pressure Finny puts on him to temporarily find peace with himself. Because he is constantly following the crowd, Gene begins to lose his individuality and finds himself overwhelmed with jealousy. He risks Phineas’ life by shaking the branch of a tree they jump off of, which disables him and ultimately leads to his death. The boys’ friends feel that they need someone to blame for Finny’s tragic injury, so they hold a mock trial to investigate. Gene is under constan...

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