April 17, 2010
In the novel, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the main characters, Gene and Phineas, develop an indestructible relationship. Throughout the course of the novel this relationship undergoes alteration from sincerity to betrayal. At first, Gene is envious of Phineas because of Phineas’s self-confidence. After the incident at the tree, their relationship changes into a codependent one. Gene and Phineas develop a connection during a time of war, and with mutual support, motivate each other to live normal lives. Ultimately, because this friendship kills Phineas, their companionship is a more destructive and negative one.
In the first chapter, Gene describes Phineas in a very descriptive yet unemotional way. Gene states, “For such an extraordinary athlete-even as a Lower Middler Phineas had been the best athlete in the school- he was not spectacularly built. He was my height- five feet eight and a half inches (I had been claiming five feet nine before he became my roommate, but he had said in public with that simple self-shocking acceptance of his, “No, you’re the same height I am, five eight and a half. Were on the short side”). He weighed a hundred fifty pounds, a galling ten pounds more than I did, which flowed from his legs to torso around shoulders to arms and full strong neck in an uninterrupted unity of strength” (16). Gene reveals his admiration for Phineas in this passage. Although this quotation seems simple and unbiased, Gene makes subtle comments that foreshadow a rivalry between the two boys. When Gene compares their height, a potential rivalry is revealed, along with Gene’s paranoia. Gene also refers to Phineas’s “shocking self-acceptance”. Gene is uncomfortable with himself and witnessing that nothing seems to phase Phineas is shocking to Gene. This realization for Gene will arose problems later in the novel.
Ironically, the codependent relationship...