“A Separate Peace” – John Knowles
A major theme in the book “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles is people create conflicts within their own minds, which affect their actions. This happens twice in the novel: when Gene (the main character) creates his own idea of Phineas (Gene’s best friend) and him having to be equals, and another when Phineas surmises that the war is a front for adults to control the younger generation. These thoughts not only affected their actions, but had an effect on everything they said and thought. Phineas, as an example, thought that the war was fake; a big show to control the youth of the country. He went as far as preparing his best friend, Gene, for the 1944 Olympics, which were thought, at the time, not to happen because of the war. This changes the characters, making them withdrawn and unrealistic. It seems that if a conflict within the mind of a character becomes too prominent, it becomes complete and focuses the character’s attention all on that matter.
The major conflict of “A Separate Peace” is a form of man versus self conflict. The whole contention occurs within the main character Gene; consisting of his extreme jealousy he has towards his closest friend Phineas. While Phineas is beyond gifted as an athlete and smooth talker, Gene is an outstanding student with only one –A throughout his high school career. Gene somehow conjures up his own world in which Phineas’s goal is to distract Gene from his studies and compromise his grades. This, in consequence, would make Phineas better than Gene. What Gene cannot come to see is that Phineas’s is not doing this for some competition, but likes to involve Gene in what he does around the school. Although this conflict is kept within his own mind and his own thoughts, this inward jealousy affects his actions toward his friend Phineas. Gene’s actions are what resolved this conflict; jolting a branch the two were standing on and breaking Phineas’s leg, ending his...
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