The fall of man- it's a common topic all throughout the Bible. Many allusions to this familiar Biblical theme are made in the war-time novel, A Separate Peace, by American author John Knowles. In this work, Knowles relates many of his experiences as a teenage boy attending boarding school during World War Two. He uses Biblical allusions to reveal much about human nature.
In Genesis 4:3-5 the Bible says, "In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Able brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast."
Much like Cain's jealousy toward his brother Abel in Genesis, the protagonist Gene is often placing himself in competition with his best friend and worst enemy, Phineas. Phineas, affectionately known as Finny is much like Able. He is innocent and pure in his views on life and others. Knowles says he ",Did abide by certain rules which he seemed to cast in the form of Commandments. (Pg 26)"
Able was honest and wise by choosing to follow God's orders. Thus, God was pleased with Able's offering. Cain, on the other hand was quite the opposite. He is presented as being rather depraved and corrupted. In this way, Gene is similar to Cain. In the book Gene realizes the grip that sin has on his soul and claims, "It was just some ignorance inside me, some crazy thing inside me, something blind, that's all it was. (Pg 183) "
Unfortunately, Gene, like Cain, becomes consumed with jealousy of Phineas, due to the realization that he can never be as good as Finny morally or athletically. The reader sees this when Gene states that, "there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us. I was not of the same quality as he."
The pain of this knowledge cause Gene to be irrational. He allows envy and resentment to build within him. In one moment, he allows his subconscious to pilot his body and doing so makes the regret of his lifetime. Here, he relates this horrible sin: "Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step forward and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening thud. (Pg 52)"
The story of Cain and Able goes much the same way. "Now Cain said to his brother Able, Let's go out to the field.' And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Able and killed him (Genesis 4:8)"
These parallel incidents reveal much about human nature. When Gene is faced with the truth that he will never measure up to Phineas, his subconscious takes hold of him and he destroys the better man because he cannot cope with Finny's unmatchable perfection. This act promulgates the truth concerning man's will to survive.
The fall of Adam and Eve is also quite concurrent with Gene's fall in A Separate Peace. In Genesis, the Bible relates the story of Adam and Eve and their life in the garden of Eden. Eden was a beautiful place in which there was no sin or suffering and every need was met. God's only stipulation was that the pair abstain form eating the fruit of a certain tree. Yet it seems, even this was too much to ask. Genesis 3:6 says: "When the woman saw the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he also ate it."
Yet, Adam and Eve's sin was not without consequence. The Bible tells us that, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked; So they sewed fig-leaves together and made coverings for themselves." ...