The novel, A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, is the coming of age story of Gene Forrester. This novel is a flashback to the year 1943, when Gene is attending Devon School during his senior year and the summer before it. "Gene's youth and inexperience make him ill-equipped to deal with situations that require maturity" (Overview: A Separate Peace 2). However, Gene is a follower of Finny and therefore gains experiences that provoke his development into adulthood. Some of these experiences include: breaking Finny's leg, training for the 1944 Olympics, and killing Finny. Through these three experiences Gene is forced to grow out of his childish-self and become a man.
Gene jounces a limb of the tree he and Finny were standing on, causing Finny to fall and break his leg. Gene's jealousy of Finny's perfection causes him to have childish feelings of resentment and hatred. After Finny's leg was broken, Gene realized "that there never was and never could have been any rivalry between" (Knowles 51) him and Finny. Gene looked at himself and became conscious of what a terrible, self-absorbed friend he had been. Understanding there was no competition caused him to discard the majority of his feelings of jealousy. Getting rid of these feelings made him grow-up because he was no longer spending countless hours believing a childish game was being played between Finny and him. Gene began to understand more of Finny's goodness and love towards all, making him strive to be more like Finny.
When Finny trains Gene for the 1944 Olympics, Gene becomes more mature. Through Finny's coaching of Gene, Gene acquires many characteristics of the already grown-up Fi...
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... age of Gene Forrester. Because Finny causes Gene to grow up, we are able to realize that one must grow up to move on in life. In that process of growing up, several people impact your life. This novel shows us how our identity is basically created by those who are present in our lives; however we must not measure our abilities against another person (Overview: A Separate Peace 2). We are shown how the impact of one person can make a great difference. The goodness in people is what one should always take away from a relationship. This is shown in the relationship between Gene and Finny. The experiences Finny gives Gene cause him to grow up and become a better person because of them.
Bryant, Hallman. A Separate Peace: the War Within. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co, 1990.
Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. New York: Macmillan, 1961.
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