Deadly Jealousy In John Knowles A Separate Peace

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Deadly Jealousy In A Separate Peace John Knowles presents a story in a setting that is cordoned off from the rest of the war torn world, The Devon School. But in the midst of this separated, peaceful, existence, there are still elements of competition between the characters in this story. It is especially appears in the two main characters, Gene and Phineas. Gene and Phineas depend on each other in their relationship and are competitive, such competition can be good unless it is taken too far and the reason behind it is lost, which can result in serious consequences. Gene and Phineas have an interdependent relationship, meaning that they both depend on each other for certain things, but it also has elements of a codependent relationship,…show more content…
These codependent tendencies can be seen when Gene is pressured by Phineas to go to the Suicide Society meeting on the night before his French test, and Gene gives in, saying, “I’m going. What else can I do?” (49) Because Gene is dependent on Phineas for part of his identity, he feels like Phineas is a part of him, and vice versa, therefore he feels like he has no other choice. This part of Phineas inside of Gene is seen more prominently after Finny’s death. Gene even goes as far as calling Phineas’ funeral, “my own funeral” (186) as now that part of him has died. Throughout the book there are indications that Gene actually has a desire that he doesn’t acknowledge, to become Phineas. He hurts Finny, whether or not it was a conscious decision, and tries on his clothes to better see them…show more content…
Competition is a normal, healthy, part of human development; it motivates people to better themselves so they can be comparable to someone else. Where things get problematic is when the competition gets taken to a point where all reasoning behind the competition gets lost. In the beginning section of the book, before Phineas falls from the tree, Gene has convinced himself that he is in fierce competition with Phineas, his best friend, and becomes rather passive-aggressive towards him. Gene believed that Phineas was jealous of his academic ability; because, although Phineas was better at sports, Gene was much better at sports than Phineas was at academics. In Gene’s mind, this made him better overall, he thought, “when everything was thrown into the scales they would in the end tilt definitely toward me.” (47) Gene presumed this would make Phineas envy him, and assumes that Phineas “had deliberately set out to wreck my studies” (45) by distracting him, therefore making them more “equal”. Gene takes this as a personal attack, even though later he learns Phineas wasn’t jealous at all. Gene loses his reasoning in this time period; he becomes slightly paranoid and thinks Phineas is out to get him. When the moment presents itself, Gene doesn’t think twice about striking back at Phineas, he doesn’t think at all, and shakes the tree limb, ruining Phineas’ life forever. This

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