A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace

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A Separate Peace

     Obstacles after obstacles came in the path to success. In the novel A Separate Peace, John Knowles revealed a very strong idea through one of his characters. Through Gene it was revealed that weak individual who once was weak morally and mentally can become a strong and a more matured person. John Knowles revealed this idea through Gene’s perspective; symbolism; and also Gene’s speech/action.

     Gene had proved many things through only his perspective. He had intriguing thoughts, which gave many idea’s about Gene post personality and his surroundings. “Looking back now across fifteen years, I could see with great clarity the fear I had lived in…” (Pg.2) This quote thus revealed that Gene was quite a weak individual. For if someone who lives in fear is considered morally weak, scared of the society and shy, insecure and who had a lack of confidence. Which Gene was in the beginning of the novel. “Yes he had practically saved my life. He had also practically lost it for me.” (Pg. 25) This quote exposed that Gene was in the middle of his mental metamorphosis. Gene in the first part of his quote seemed strong, but when he twisted it to make Finny, his best friend look bad, he still seemed to be morally weak, but in a more stronger moral state then before. “ 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.” (Pg. 51) This quote showed a completely changed Gene. Gene became stronger by realizing the reality, he now had realized that there was no use in competing with anyone. Although this was recognizing Gene’s change only perspective wise.

     There were many deep meanings that Gene had from significant things from his past. The two main significant symbolic things for Gene were the tree and the stairs. “Although they were old stairs, the worn moons in the middle of each step were not very deep. The marble must be unusually hard….” (Pg. 3) This quote proved that the marble represented some of his so called “friend”, in other words referred to Brinker and Leper. For they had used him and indirectly killed Finny, who was Gene’s real friend. For the Marble looked rich and good, but it’s real texture was cold and hard, just like Brinker and Leper were, as Gene had found out later on in the story.

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The tree then was introduced, “ don’t start awarding the prizes until you’ve passed the course. The tree is waiting.” (Pg.9) In the novel the tree was something for initiation, and if a person jumped off the tree, they would be considered a man, rather then a child. When they meant the prize the actually referred to the manhood and their maturity, which Gene also wanted to have, like his friends. The tree was something that intimidated Gene into being a lot more matured and be a strong person, into someone that was able to realize the reality. Returning to the marble stairs, this time the marble stairs made Gene see through who were his friends and who were his enemy’s. “ his body falling clumsily down the white marble stairs.” (Pg.169) This quote was refered to Finny’s body falling down the white marble stairs. From this Finny falling down from the white marble stairs, Gene then knew or sure who Brinker and Leper were. They were two-faced people, said they were friend but were not. Who acted like bullies and mean, to hide their real personalities. This revealed that Gene was stronger and was able to see who people really were from the inside.

     Gene’s speech and actions were also important in the role playing of Gene’s change. Even Gene’s actions showed how Gene changed from weak to recognizing and then to strong. The quote that revealed that Gene was a weak individual was by, “ I took a step towards him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limbs. Finny his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening unnatural thud.” (Pg.52) This quote revealed that Gene was a very weak individual. The reason for that is that he overcame his problem in a way he was not supposed, instead of talking to Finny about his problem with Finny, Gene actually tried to kill Finny in order to clear his problem, which proved that morally and mentally Gene was a weak person.


“ ‘I’m sorry’ I said blindly, ‘I’m sorry I’m sorry’ “ This quote was said by Gene to Finny, when Finny was literally lying on his deathbed after collapsing on the white marble stairs. They way Gene’s tone was while apologizing, showed that he was sincere and was actually apologizing to a friend rather then what Gene had thought of Finny before. This showed that now since Gene was a stronger individual, he was able to have insight of the people he knew, he in other words was able to face the reality.

     Therefore Gene throughout the story very slowly became stronger and stronger until he came to a point where he was able to recognize anyhow, meaning that he was able to see the people through their hearts, and know who they really were. Once he got to know who they really were he was then able to face them, if they were evil or any other negative possible thing.
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