Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

A Separate Peace: the Incident at the Tree

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Nicole Tu Mr. Lavato English 2A, Period 1 10 September, 2012 The Incident at the Tree In the novel, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Gene Forrester and Phineas, also known as Finny, are best friends who have a very deep friendship. However, as the story progresses, Gene began to develop feelings of jealousy for Finny when he saw how perfect Finny’s character is. Finny has always been able to talk his way out of trouble and is naturally a good athlete who is earnest, confident, & pure.

On the other hand, Gene cannot be pure like Finny and feels insecure. Seeing how good Finny is, caused Gene to become jealous, “I was beginning to see that Phineas could get away with anything, I couldn’t help envying him…” (ch2. 20) Soon, Gene thinks that a rivalry is happening between them. Because Gene envies Finny’s character, he thinks that Finny is also jealous of him for his good academic performance, “I felt better. Yes, I sensed it like the sweat of relief …We were even after all… The deadly rivalry was on both sides after all. ”(ch4. 4). By thinking there is a competition between them, Gene feels at ease, because none of them is better than the other. One night, Finny announced that Leper will jump off the tree, in order to become a full member of their secret society. Gene didn’t want to go because he feared his grade would slip if he didn’t study and also thinks that Leper wouldn’t dare to jump off the tree. After hearing from Gene that he wanted to study, Finny was surprise because he thought that Gene was naturally intelligent, who doesn’t need to review for a test.

With sincerity, Finny lets Gene study, but Gene changed his mind and would come along with Finny. On the way to the tree,Gene realizes that a competition never happened and it was just Gene that was envious of Finny. Because Gene saw Finny's goodness and innocence, Gene realizes a rivalry with Finny will never occur. Gene began to feel angry with himself because he has been mistaken the whole time. Most importantly, no matter what Gene does he will never be like Finny. …there never was and never could have been any rivalry…I am not the same quality as he. ”(ch4. 72) After much thinking, Finny and Gene soon reached the tree and Finny suggested that the two make a double-jump, which Gene agreed to do and followed Finny up the tree. Gene was by now, feeling anger ; jealously, and for a split second, he became overwhelm with his emotions and jounced the tree limb. With the lost of balance, Finny fell off the tree and broke his leg.

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