English 2 Period 3
15 October 2014
A Good Friendship Needs Honesty
A good friendship needs honesty. Friendship between the main characters, Gene and Phineas
(Finny), during World War II is the main string in A Separate Peace by John Knowles. They do not have a normal friendship because Gene is jealous of Finny and wants to be like him, even though Finny regards Gene as his best friend. However, their friendship becomes worse after Finny falls down the tree because Gene bounces the branch. Gene hides the truth that it is him who causes Finny’s broken leg and death, and still continues being Finny’s best friend. Because of Gene’s dishonesty, their friendship goes to an end. The author is trying to tell us a good friendship cannot exist without both of the friends’ honesty.
Finny handles his relationship with teachers and students well; he is so good at sports that it makes Gene very jealous. For example, when Finny wears a pink shirt and his tie as a belt, Mr. Patch-Withers catches him and asks why he is dressed like this; Finny’s response, however, makes him and his wife laugh. Gene is not expecting that: “He had gotten away with everything. I felt a sudden stab of disappointment. That was because I just wanted to see some more excitement; that must have been it” (Knowles 28). Gene wants Finny to be punished by Mr. Patch-Withers for wearing his tie as a belt. It brings Gene pleasure if Finny is punished because he is jealous that Finny can get out of trouble, not like the other students. Continuing to break school rules, he even takes Gene out to beach one night. Finny tells Gene he is his best pal while they are laying on the beach. Gene tries to tell Finny the same thing, but he cannot: “But something held me back. Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth” (48). Gene realizes that although he likes Finny, his feelings are also full of resentment, and sometimes he wishes that Finny was not so successful. This keeps him from telling Finny that they are best friends. Gene’s jealousy of Finny is stronger than the positive feelings of admiration or liking that he has, and eventually it makes their “friendship” fall apart.
The lack of honesty and trust between Finny and Gene also hurts their “friendship.” Finny always tells Gene what his true thoughts are while Gene does not. For example, Gene does not tell Finny it is him who jounces the tree, causing him to fall down and break his leg. Instead of telling the truth, Gene asks Finny what happened, and even tries to pretend he helped him. “I tried, you remember? I reached out but you were gone, you went down through those little branches