Guilt vs Acceptance

Powerful Essays
Guilt Vs. Acceptance

By: Madeleine Spadafora

The power and impact that guilt can have on one’s life can be a positive and negative experience depending on how the individual deals with their situation and whether or not they learn a lesson from their mistake. The novels A Separate Peace by John Knowles and Fifth Business by Robertson Davies share the theme of guilt in their storylines through events and relationships but differ as to how to the characters cope with their reactions through reflection and confrontation. A Separate Peace tells the story of a young boy by the name of Gene Forrester who in an act of jealousy and competitiveness pushes his friend Phineas out of a tree. Fifth Business surrounds the character Dunstan Ramsay, who as a child, ducks a snowball with a rock hidden within thrown at him by his friend Guy. The snowball hits Mary Dempster at the back of the head, causing her brain damage and the premature birth of her baby Paul Dempster. Both plots surround two men who look back at their lives and how a single negative event affects their childhood. What would appear to be an insignificant moment of the past evolves into a lifelong mental scar that poisons the characters with guilt and the desire for acceptance. The novels’ protagonists share encounters in childhood fueled by competitive friendships; however, Gene Forrester accepts responsibility for his actions and is able to move on while Dunstan Ramsay does not and lets his memories and guilt plague his life. The two novels are similar in the aspect that both Gene Forrester and Dunstan Ramsay are involved in childhood incidents that curse them with guilt. In the novel A Separate Peace, Gene Forrester subconsciously moves the branch he and his physically and socially superior friend Finny are standing on. Finny falls and is heavily injured and the casualties lead to his early death later on. “…and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his

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