Friendship in John Knowles' A Separate Peace

Friendship in John Knowles' A Separate Peace

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In life, as well in books there can be a lot of friendship going on; in some cases there can be bad friendships and there can be good friendships. In A Separate Peace Gene, in my opinion, Gene is not a good friend. In Catcher in the Rye Holden, in my opinion, is also not a good friend. I think that Holden and Gene are not good friends to other people and do not really know how to keep a friendship, because even though they both have friends, they both still discern their friends in bad ways or think bad things about them; because the person or friend has done something bad towards them or because they feel insecure towards the person or the situation that they are in.
In the book A Separate Peace Gene has some friends at Devon, but he has one best friend, Phineas (Finny), and Gene really gets a long with him; but Gene has a different point of view of Finny than everybody else at Devon. Gene and Finny are best friends but in their relationship Gene gets the wrong impression of Finny. “‘Come on, lets go. We’ve got to be there. You never know, maybe he will do it this time.’ Oh for God sake.’ I slammed the French book. ‘What’s the matter?’ What a performance! His face was completely questioning and candid” (Knowles 57). In this quote Gene thinks that Finny is trying to take him away from his studies and is trying to get ahead of him. In my opinion If Gene was really a good friend he would have never had these thoughts about Finny or a least Gene would have known that’s how Finny acts. In the same sense Holden does the same thing to the people that care or like him as a friend.
Holden, the main character, in the book Catcher in the Rye has friends but really does not know how to understand how they act towards him. Holden judges a person before he really gets to know what they are trying to do; he calls the people that are not his close friends/ teachers, Phonies. “I didn’t feel like going into the whole thing with him. He wouldn’t have understood it anyway. It wasn’t up his alley at all. One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies.

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That’s all... For instance, they had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I environment in my life” (Salinger13-14). Holden really didn’t want to tell Mr. Spencer the reason he got kicked out of Elkton Hills and he decided to tell him that the school was full of phonies; and he really did not appreciate the people around him.
Gene as a friend has not yet come to understand how to appreciate what Finny does for him or how he acts towards him. Gene, for one, has a bad idea about the relationship that he has with Finny and does not communicate with him about his feelings. "I should have told him then that he was my best friend also and rounded off what he had said. I started to; I nearly did. But something held me back. Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth"(Knowles48). Gene wanted to tell Finny how he felt about both of them being friends but he felt like he could not tell him. In stead Gene kept it to himself and did not communicate with Finny. Gene really did not want to express the way he felt for Finny because he knew that he was going to end up hurting him some way and he also knew that he had a sort of jealousy towards Finny. In a way Holden also does not express his feelings, he keeps them for himself.
Holden in the same sense really does not care how he hurts other people and why he lies to them; and he keeps his feelings bottled up inside him and does not express them. ” I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life” (Salinger16). In this scene Holden has just finished visiting Mr. Spencer and Holden lied to him just so he can leave and not pay attention to what Mr. Spencer had to say. Holden also misinterprets what Mr. Spencer wanted to talk to him about. Holden thought that he was just going to give him a lecture, but Mr. Spencer really cared about him getting kicked out of school, and he was also worried about his future. Gene is the complete opposite when it comes to academics; in the way they are with their friends is sort of the same.
Gene wanted to have a good relationship with Phineas but Gene could not keep or work out the relationship that they had with each other. He knew that Phineas was a good friend and would never have had bad thoughts about him. Gene also knew that Phineas never actually hated anybody; Phineas was the only one that created a separate world for the boys at school, which Gene finally came to realize. “During the time I was with him, Phineas created an atmosphere in which I continued now to live, a way of sizing up the world with erratic and entirely personal reservations, letting its rocklike facts sift through and be accepted only a little at a time, only as much as he could assimilate without a sense of chaos and loss. No one else I have ever met could do this… when they began to feel that there was this overwhelmingly hostile thing in the world with them, then the simplicity and unity of their characters broke and they were not the same again”(knowles202). Gene notices that all Finny wanted is to create a separate peace, a peace away from the real world like war, death, and fear. In the same sense both Holden and Gene really do not value someone until they are gone.
Holden can not express his feelings to a person until something happens to them or until they are gone. “‘I know he’s dead! Don’t you think I know that? I can still like him, though, can’t I? Just because somebody’s dead, you just stop liking them, for God’s sake- especially if they were about a thousand times nicer than the people you know that’re alive and all’”(Salinger171). In this scene Phoebe asks Holden a question about who he likes and Holden takes a while to answer. After a while Holden says that he likes Allie, and says he likes him because he was nicer than the people that he knows. Holden really does not know how to express his felling or actions towards someone till something has happened; but Gene misinterprets that ways that the people that are close to him act.
Gene misinterprets Finny’s actions and thinks that Finny is jealous of him because he would get A’s on his exams; and that is why Gene thought that Finny was trying to take him away from his studies. Gene also started not to like how Finny was acting towards him, but Gene really did not know that Finny did not have and bad intensions towards Gene. "It wasn't my neck, but my understanding which was menaced. He had never been jealous of me for a second. Now I knew that there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us. I was not of the same quality as he"(Knowles59). In this quote Gene finds out that Finny had different qualities than him; and Gene realizes that Finny never had any hatred towards him. This also makes Gene’s view of Finny in a way of jealousy and envy less stressful to Gene; without the trust that a friendship is supposed to have.
Holden is a protagonist that really does not trust his friends and the other people around him. “That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write ‘Fuck You’ right under your nose’”(Salinger204). Holden thinks that there is no nice, peaceful place in the world and if there was that everything would screw up. He really did not want to get attached to easily but he ended up anyway, with some of his friends. In that sense that’s why Holden really might have never had many friends, maybe he did not want to get screwed up with someone or something that is why he probably called mostly everybody Phonies; that is not what a friendship is supposed to be built.
I think that both Gene and Holden would not be good friends or they would not be able to keep a friendship with someone. Both of them would not have the qualities of being truthful to someone. Gene or Holden would not be able to notice the good things that are in a friendship and
would sort of be a two face. Gene and Holden can have friends but also they would not know how to value them and they would discern them in bad ways. I think that Gene and Holden would really do not get to in to their friends and also would not keep a close relationship with them, because of the lack of trust and or respect.
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