(A Separate Peace)
Gene and Finny are the main characters of A Separate Peace and Gene also serves as the narrator and protagonist of this book. In the beginning of the novel Gene and Finny appear to have a perfect friendship, although Gene has many mixed emotions regarding Finny. It is clear from Gene’s praiseworthy description of Finny’s athleticism, charisma, and charm that Gene admires Finny. It is also these qualities that make Finny the competition. Although Gene is academically superior, Finny captivates everyone’s attention and is quite influential on those surrounding him. Because of Finny’s ability to strongly persuade his peers, Gene fears that Finny may have control over him, and later resents him for this. The idyllic friendship that is first introduced is overcome by Gene’s jealousy, and as a result Finny’s first accident occurs. But the main cause of Gene’s jealousy is not Finny’s athleticism or charisma; it is ultimately Finny’s goodness that serves as a catalyst for Gene’s jealousy.
While Gene believes that humans are fearful and creates enemies where none exist, Finny counts no one as his enemy and assumes that the world is a fundamentally friendly place. These qualities make Finny unique, but vulnerable. Despite Finny’s pure heart and strength, he is far from invincible, and his ability to be broken keeps him human in the reader’s eyes, no matter how Gene depicts him. Finny's vulnerability is not just physical, and because of this, he suffers more injuries than a mere broken leg. This can be seen from the scene on the beach, when Finny nakedly declares that Gene is his best friend. He makes himself vulnerable emotionally, and by not responding, Gene takes advantage of that susceptibility.
Although the peak of Gene’s envy causes Finny’s fall, afterward all of Gene’s resentments fade away. By crippling Finny, Gene brings him down to his own level and Gene and Finny become increasingly codependent. This causes...