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A Separate Peace by John Knowles is a complex novel that portrays war in many different forms. Gene Forrester was attending Devon School during World War II. This was a representation of different wars he was having within himself. Gene was feeling a kind of jealousy toward his friend Finny. He also felt like Finny was trying to sabotage him with relation to his schoolwork. Lastly Gene felt guilt, guilt from what was described by him as a “blind impulse” and also from having the truth revealed to him resulting in a fatal accident.
Gene fought with his fears throughout the story. He thought that he was a complete person, full of what a man should be, but when he got to Devon and met Finny, he felt he was incomplete, as though he lacked something. He tried to find ways to fill the void by associating with all that Finny did. As a result he did become more well-rounded but he also felt guilt for the consequences. Guilt was also an internal war or conflict Gene had with himself. After “jouncing the limb” while Finny was on it, Gene sensed he was wrong in doing so but he was not fully regretful. After the truth came out though, and Finny once again broke his leg, Gene did feel complete remorse. At Finny’s funeral Gene didn’t cry but it’s not that he was not sad or that he was not sorrowful, but he felt like it was his own funeral and he knew that you don’t cry at your own funeral. Gene also thought that Finny was trying to sabotage his schoolwork by taking him places and convincing him to do things that were illogical and impulsive. Although this was not the case Gene really fought with himself, over-analyzing all of Finny’s shenanigans and deciding whether or not they seemed to be plots against him.
As Gene went through life he was still not settled by the events that had happened in Devon those years.
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