Optimism and Gene Essay

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Hunter Wetton Mrs. Kerrigan Comparative Literature 17 March 2013

Magnets attract just like a good friendship, and when two magnets repel, it is just like the break in a friendship. In the fiction novel, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the two main characters have distinct personalities that shape their outlooks on life. Gene is very studious and takes great pride in his academics, while Finny is laid-back and more athletic, but he is not an academic. Gene has a more pessimistic outlook on life because he sees the glass as half empty, rather than half full. Finny, on the other hand, is an optimistic person. Gene loves winter because he loves being in school, but he does not think that winter loves him back. Despite the difference in their outlooks on life, these characters are drawn to each other and form a strong friendship. Since Gene is a more negative person than Finny, Finny motivates Gene to keep a more positive outlook on life. Gene usually thinks things aren’t true, but when Finny gives him advice, Gene thinks that things “should have been true” (pg.

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111). This shows that Gene has his doubts about life, and Finny is his guiding light. Although the two characters have their differences in the way they think and behave, they are there for each other to offset each other’s personalities. Gene also states “sleep suspends all but changed nothing” (pg. 106) when he was referring to Finny’s broken leg. Gene does not have any faith that someday Finny’s leg would heal miraculously and he would be back to his athletic self. Even though Gene is there to support Finny, he does not have a very optimistic outlook on his life or on Finny’s. We can tell that Gene starts to have a positive outlook on life when Finny states that “I used to be aiming for the Olympics” (pg. 117) and Gene responds by saying he would be “grooming you for the Olympics” (pg. 117). Gene, in a turn of events takes Finny’s outlook on life and becomes more optimistic. He was pessimistic before because he did not believe that loving something would give him love in return. Finny also got Gene to be