English 10 Jill Veleas In John Knowles’s, A Separate Peace, Gene Forrester discovers a darker, more sinister side of himself as his jealousy propels him to hurt his best friend. It is the evolving discovery of his own character that allows Gene to mature and develop as an individual. By succumbing to his primal hatred and by facing his own guilty conscience, Gene is able to grow develop a clearer outlook on life. The tragedy of Phineas’s death provided the courage for Gene to take part in the war. The first sign of Gene’s malicious behavior is shown through the competition that Gene creates between himself and Finny. He imagines psychological warfare, a fierce competition between himself and his best friend. Every interaction in their athletics competitions and academic studies becomes a threat. e He even f He In order to deal with the jealousy that is manifesting in his psyche, he had to convince himself that “Finny had deliberately set out to wreck my studies. That explained blitzball, that explained the nightly meeting of the Super Suicide Society, that explained his insistence that I share all his diversions” (53). Really Finny just wanted the best for Gene and this competition was only in Gene’s head. Later on in the story Finny even tells Gene that his imagination is inflamed and things “might not be quite as mixed up as you made it out to be” (163). He created this completion to deal with his insecurities he felt when comparing himself to Finny. He soon realized that the competition is false and that Finny was never trying to harm Gene, academically or physically. That realization practically breaks Gene. Now he not only has to live with having a best friend who is more popular and athletically superior but someone who is a better person. Gene’s growing and festering jealousy erupts into hatred of which he is seemingly unaware.
Gene’s hatred towards Finny continues to develop until Finny becomes not only Gene’s best friend but his enemy as well. Gene is threatened by Finny’s easier lifestyle, he has everything that Gene covets; a supportive family, financial stability, good looks and athletic ability. In Gene’s mindset, Finny has become the enemy that must be destroyed. He becomes extremely jealous when Finny broke the school swimming record. “His accomplishment took root in my mind and grew rapidly in the darkness where I was forced to hide it” (45). So he decides to sabotage his friend by jouncing the limb and causes Finny to break his leg. Gene’s jealousy surfaces in violence, even though he has realized that his friend had no ill intentions towards him. Causing the meaning behind their friendship to change and evolve into something far more sinister. Gene is full of self loathing when he recognized that he can never be like Finny. Reeling from guilt after jouncing the limb, Gene tries to confess to Finny that he was guilty. His attempt at an apology shows that he wishes to absolve himself of his own wrong doing. He experienced an epiphany in understanding that his biggest fear is his own inadequacy. Finny’s life is a reflection of everything that he covets. After Finny’s death Gene understands that his perception of Finny was one of idolatry. He views Finny as everything he wishes to be himself. Yet it was only after his