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A Separate Peace Gene and Finny
In A Separate Peace, the main characters are foils of one another. The plot is pushed along by the changing dynamics of their friendship. Their relationship begins to drift apart when their personalities clash. The changing dynamics of Gene and Finny's relationship and the revelations in Gene's personality are what move the plot along.
At first, Gene fights against his memories. The story is opened with Gene returning to his old school, Devon. A struggle, or some sort of conflict, is clear by the way he practically forces himself to return to the staircase and the tree. He comments on how things have changed, which reflects how he himself has changed. The staircase is hard now, he notices, showing that he feels detached from the object. Meanwhile, the tree is now shrunken and identical to the other trees, which could mean that Gene has moved on from whatever significance the tree once held. The rain that starts falling later is a universal symbol of sadness, foreshadowing a tragic event later on in the story that involves him and the school. After seeing the tree and staircase and noting that they no longer seem as intimidating, a weight seems to be lifted off of Gene's conscious and he returns to shelter.
At first, Gene seems to be awed by Finny. Although his friend is more athletic than him, Gene is proud of the other boy's accomplishments. In fact, he is proud to be so close to a well-loved student. He considers himself lucky to be considered Finny's best friend. It becomes evident that jealously engrains itself into the friendship, however. Gene soon views not himself to be the lucky one, but Finny. He views all of Finny's good fortune to be his own bad luck. Whenever Finny gets out of trouble by being blatantly obvious, he thinks of it as himself being inadequate and not as good as his friend. This is shown at the luncheon both boys are invited to when Finny explains his inappropriate belt.
Although Gene and Finny are very different, they are also united in several ways. Both boys like to be in charge and are comfortable in leadership positions.
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