A Separate Peace Essay

Submitted By Pasquale-Cannata
Words: 1188
Pages: 5

To say that Gene remains static throughout the entire book would only represent that the individual making the claim lacks understanding of the definition of the word. Gene is highly dynamic and every changing from chapter to chapter due to constant twists in the plot of the story as well as the breaking of the Peace at Devon. Gene undergoes three major changing points in the story that shape the transformed individual he is to become in the end of the novel. The first major point of change for Gene came as a result of his outing with Finny to the beach. Finny convinces Gene to accompany him to the shore claiming that Gene needs to have some fun and that he would show him how. What makes this situation special is that fact that they are not supposed to leave school grounds without permission; also, Gene has a test tomorrow that he insists he must study for. The fact that Gene agrees to this is completely unlike him as he is a strong advocate of following the rules, and is also studious and top of his class. As such it is very much so unlike him to follow Finny in his adventures in this case. More importantly however is the result of their outing that ever more so shows how Gene is a dynamic character. As the two are out all night and return the next day barley in time for Gene to take his test, Gene was unable to study and inevitably fails the test. It is at this point that Gene comes to what he believes is a sad realization. He thinks that Gene is plotting against him by trying to sabotage his up till now immaculate academic career and thereby assert his dominance in their friendship. This is a complete turnaround form the previous chapters of the book because in the eyes of Gene, they have gone from the best of friends to utter enemies. Eventually it becomes clear that Gene is not plotting against him which only worsens the situation. Now Gene is under the impression that Finny is both a better athlete as well as a better person than Gene. This drives him to the breaking point with an immense self-imposed fear against a non-existent self-imposed enemy. This leads him to succumb to his fears and jounce the limb of the tree the next time he and Finny climb the tree to jump. This only further corroborates the fact that he has indeed changed from his previous relationship with Finny as he has now deliberately sabotaged his safety. Not surprisingly, the next “stage” that overcomes Gene is one of guilt for the obvious wrong that he has done to Finny. The beginning of this stage in the book is marked by a once again changed Gene trying on Finny clothes while he is in the infirmary. He does this now claiming that he is a part of Finny and that he must now live his life for him. The guilt within Gene is then further exemplified when he visits Finny in the infirmary and tries to admit to him that he caused him to fall, but is prevented from doing so by Dr. Stanpole. Then, over a month later, Gene is still unable to cope with the guilt of ruining Finny’s life and does finally admit to him that he was the cause of the incident. After Finny refuses to accept this however Gene leaves. The guilty stage of the story is important as a stepping stone in showing the change that Gene has undergone thus far, as well as setting the groundwork for the following stage of the novel. The fact that Gene tried on Finny clothes while he was in the infirmary is also very important to this part of the book as it is a point of change as well, change in identity. The guilt, as described before, has caused Gene to undergo a change in identity, which he describes as him [Phineas] “becoming a part of him [Gene] now.” Gene is so disgusted with himself for having caused Finny's accident that he can't bear to be Gene anymore. This can be described as nothing other than absolute change of Gene’s entire persona. He begins to play sports on Finny’s behalf, he stops following the rules, and allows his grades to slip. All of his virtues from before the accident…