The Consequences of Fear

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As Yoda once said, "Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering." This is a dominant idea in John Knowles' A Separate Peace. The novel takes place during World War II and traces the time the main character, Gene, spends at a prep school called Devon . It is there that he meets and forms a strong love-hate relationship with a boy named Finny. The two become best friends, but Gene soon develops an intense jealousy of Finny. This is due to Gene's own insecurities, which are the fears he possesses of not being good enough. Gene carries many fears which are the root of the tragedies that later take place in the novel. In Knowles' A Separate Peace, Gene' s fear ultimately leads to suffering.
Throughout the novel, Gene possesses several fears. Gene is deeply afraid of jumping off of the tree limb. Due to peer pressure, Gene is forced to jump from the tree into a river. This task is one which Gene is not fond of and it frightens him terribly. As he is about to dive off for the first time, he is filled with abundant fear: "This tree flooded me with a sensation of alarm all the way to my tingling fingers"(8). This makes it evident that he is terrified of jumping. Despite him successfully jumping off, Gene's fear does not vanish. He in fact must suffer through it every time he jumps off: "I never got inured to the jumping. At every meeting the limb seemed higher, thinner, the deeper water harder to reach"(25). Gene clearly has a fear of heights which makes his every jump a genuine nightmare. Another one of Gene's fears is his fear of being drafted into
Almassi 2 the war. Boys who are around Gene's age group are constantly being drafted for the war. The thought of being drafted terrifies Gene after ...

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...fault of Gene. However, this time the consequences are far more tragic. While the doctor is fixing up his leg, some bone marrow gets into his blood stream and flows directly into his heart, causing his heart to stop. Gene's hate led to Finny losing his life. Finny's death is no less than a heartbreaking calamity. He was one of the truly good people in the world, who possessed no inner evil. He was crushed by the hate in the world, and his life was taken from him.
In Knowles' A Separate Peace, Gene starts with his many fears, including his insecurities which were also the root of his anger. Once he is angry, he allows that anger to grow into catastrophic levels so that he develops a huge hatred of Finny. In the end, Gene's hate leads to suffering for both Gene and Finny. Gene feels guilt for the actions he committed when he was

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A Separate Peace
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