The Power Of Power In A Separate Peace By John Knowles

737 Words3 Pages
Power, the perception of superiority over another human, is the source of many conflicts between people. Feeling inferior causes people to act beyond their normal personality. John Knowles strongly demonstrates this point in his work, A Separate Peace. In the relationship between Finny and Gene, Gene sets himself up to be inferior in the balance of power which motivates him to act irrationally to take power back from Finny. Knowles deliberately juxtaposes Gene’s social awkwardness to Finny’s natural athleticism and charisma to suggest an imbalance of power between the two boys. Set in Devon School, described as “very athletic” (Knowles 13), Finny, “an extraordinary athlete…the best athlete in the school,” (16) establishes himself to be popular, tilting the balance of power. Stating there is no one “in this school – in this world – whom [he] could trust” (53), Knowles introduces Gene as a distrustful individual. Gene’s hesitant nature lets the animated Finny take charge of their relationship. To create power imbalance, the author purposefully creates Gene and Finny with wildly different personalities. Knowles further manipulates Finny and Gene’s relationship in their escapades together. At the beach, Finny shares his inner emotions with Gene, an act likened to “the next thing to suicide” (48). Surprised, Gene attempts to share his own feelings, but hesitates and does not follow through. Knowles uses Gene’s hesitant, distrusting nature, to suggest dishonesty in his relationship with Finny. In the scene where Finny saves Gene from falling out of the tree, Knowles continues to imply power disparity. Realizing that “Finny had practically saved [his] life” (32), Gene feels personal debt to Finny. This widens the power gap even further ... ... middle of paper ..., Gene’s activities demonstrate gradual escalation. Obsessed with Finny, Gene seeks to transform himself into Finny to finally be equals. Gene sets himself up to become the inferior in his relationship with Finny because of his distrusting nature, but his yielding to Finny’s power motivates him to no longer be the lackey but rather the leader. In Gene’s quest for dominance, his initial steps are passive; he seeks to portray Finny as an antagonist and look better in comparison. Gene’s plan escalates as he takes away power from Finny physically. This proceeds into an obsession with him, convincing Gene that the only way to gain power is to become Finny. Knowles uses Gene’s escalation of his plot for power to warn readers to be wary of those seeking power. Through Gene, he advises the reader that individuals who seek power will stop at nothing to achieve their goal.
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