A Separate Peace: Relationship Between Phineas and Gene

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In the novel "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles, the relationship between Phineas and Gene is greatly influenced by Gene's undying amount of loyalty to Finny. Gene is a rather unstable main character who doesn't have a lot of confidence in himself and isn't the most courageous person, so he is easily influenced by the much more confident and bold Phineas. This difference in their personalities can easily be spotted when the two are together, specifically at the beach and in events concerning the tree.

One example of this theme was when Gene first climbed and jumped out of the tree in chapter one, at the request, or you could say the order of Phineas. Gene had said to himself that he didn't want to do it himself "What was I doing up here? Why do I let Finny talk me into stupid things like this?" (p. 17), but he jumped, nevertheless. Finny seemed to have a power over him and since Gene didn't have enough courage to explain to Finny that he didn't want to make the leap, he jumped anyway. This is the first time we see the kind of control that Finny has over Gene, but certainly not the last time.

Finny once again exemplifies his leadership over Gene when he proposes a several hour bike ride to him, which Gene opts to attend instead of studying for his trigonometry test. Gene goes on and on in a rant about how much he hates biking, how going to the beach is forbidden, and that it will interfere with his studies. Then, to top off his monotonous oration he merely says "All right [I'll Go]" (p. 46) and gives in again. It seems as though Gene is unable to just convey his feelings to Finny and say "sorry, I just don't think I can make it, I need to study for this test."

Gene's loyalty to Finny did not end with the bone-breaking fall from the tree. If anything, Gene became more adherent to him. Gene made the choice not to enlist in the war, at the request of Brinker Hadley, when Phineas returned from the hospital and requested that he did not. Gene knew that he could...
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