Codependency and Truth
In A Separate Peace, John Knowles tells the story of a lonely intellectual, Gene, studying at Devon School in New Hampshire during the time of World War II. Over the summer before his senior year, he becomes best friend with his athletic and foolhardy roommate, Finny, whom he grows to admire but jealous at the same time. This turns into Gene jouncing on a branch, causing Finny to fall of a tree and shatter his leg. After finding out Finny that can’t play sports anymore, Gene spends his whole senior year attempting to find the true reason why he cripples his close friend and his true identity as well. Through Gene and Finny, Knowles suggests the idea that codependency leads to an individual’s denial of truth.
By living in a codependent state, Finny and Gene (for a short time), refuse to accept World War II as real. After Finny returns to school after his healing from the tree incident, he admits to Gene that he aims for the Olympics of 1944. Now that Finny’s crippled state makes it impossible for him to have that goal, he decides to coach Gene for it. Even when Gene tries to tell him, Finny ignores the fact that the Olympic might not happen because of the current war for he believes it’s merely a scheme. “…I went along, as I always did, with any new invention of Finny’s. There was no harm in taking aim, even if the target was a dream.” (109). Gene simply allows himself to Finny’s idea, because that way he gets the opportunity to become Finny “even if it’s only a dream”. Gene hopes obtaining this opportunity will get rid of his own identity that he spites. Gene soon temporarily believes the false mindset of the war as a fake game plan that the calculating fat old men creates because he lapses into Finny’s vision of peace, which maintains the idea of no war happening whatsoever. After some training with Finny and becoming a part of Finny, Gene admits to himself, “…and the surrounding world confusion found no...