Gene Vs. Finny (A Separate Peace)

A comparison/contrast of two characters of the book A Separate Peace by John Knowles.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles is an excellent book. It portrays the life of teenagers during the Second World War, and how they had to live knowing that after high school they had to go into the service. This book also showed how they competed, which led to the loss of good friends. Out of the whole book, it focuses on mainly two characters, Phineas (a.k.a. Finny) and Gene. I will compare and contrast them.

Gene is a smart, normal student. He is the typical teenager at Devon, the all male boarding school in New Hampshire that this story is based on, studying, competing, and just being a teen. But things happen in the story that makes you change your mind about him, mainly his relationship between him and Finny. Jealousy overtook Gene’s mind, eventually making have bad choices, like pushing Finny out of a tree, which led to his death. At the end Gene was a mixed up person, full of guilt and sadness.

Finny was the all around athlete, always winning trophies, and competing in events. When it came to work, school work that is, he just passed. He claimed that he just can’t learn when it really was his choice of not doing well. He didn’t want to be good, because he was jealous of Gene for being good, and didn’t want to show that jealousy. After doing a lot of jumps out of a tree into the river, Finny had the idea to do a double jump, which in one way or another led to his death. Gene subconsciously shuffled his feet, knocking Finny off of the tree, breaking his bones, and ending his career in sports and in the army. Finny wanted to be good in sports, but not praised, and he wanted to join the army, even though he said there was no war. Overall Finny was an athletic person that wanted to be like everyone else, while at the same time stand out in the crowd. He wanted to be himself.

Together the pair makes a good team. They always team up when doing things, making the super secret suicide society idea, and of the tree jumping altogether. They always shared rooms, and even though Gene knocked Finny off of the tree, they were friends, for a while anyways. They were both jealous of each other, but that was expected as they were both good in different ways. Finny was good in sports, while Gene was good at school work. Finny was good with convincing people, and Gene was good at thinking up things to tell people, more like explanations. Overall they were the same because of jealousy and their extreme abilities at school subjects.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles, and the characters in it are very confusing, and interesting at the same time. The differences between Gene and Finny made the story move along in a sort of conflicting way, always showing the differences between the two while they are having good times. Gene and Finny would always be different and the same at the same time, even if the story didn’t end the way it did. I believe that not only the jealousy bringing them together made the story good, but also the fact that they were better at each others weaknesses. In the end, those two factors made A Separate Peace a great story.

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29 Comments
  1. Mike
    Posted May 14, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    its seems like a 2nd grader wrote this

  2. WHAT
    Posted December 2, 2008 at 7:51 am

    dosnt even go along with the main happenings of the book.
    not good at all… needs more context out of the book …there were more things that happened then falling out of the tree

  3. baybee gurl
    Posted December 3, 2008 at 12:34 am

    helped me with my essayy too.

  4. Penis
    Posted December 23, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Meh,I just needed an idea, this little tidbit gave me it.

  5. rawr.
    Posted February 15, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    It really is poorly written………..

  6. Julie
    Posted February 16, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Eh, this person needs to acutally use the book before they write about it. This is VERY poorly written…..

  7. you mom
    Posted April 22, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    i fricken loved it, ti majorly helped me with my comparison essay.

  8. caitlin
    Posted April 26, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    not good. needs more examples from the book, not just how you felt about it.

  9. dirka dirka
    Posted May 12, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    it gave me an idea for my essay and got my english teacher to suck my dick at lunch so im good!

  10. lol
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:45 am

    for starters he didnt shuffle his feet he jounced the limb and it was on purpose. 2nd finny wasnt jealous of gene in fact at one part gene asks finnny what he though of them both being top of the school and finny replied he wouldnt be phased at all

  11. Posted July 20, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Lmao wow im surprised you guys are all about my essay for 10th grade English. If you were in my class that year you would have done the essay the same way. It was an easy class so i wrote dumb and quick. It does explain the book well for what it is so don’t complain. You obviously read the whole thing and care about it enough to comment on it lol.

  12. ME?
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    UMMMM!!!! THIS SUCKED! One he did not shuffle his feet, he did bounce the limb or in the book it says jounced… and I do think this was made by a second grader… And also it says that he wanted to join the army, yes but did accept the fact eventually, even though in this it says he never did accept it. This is very poorly written and get two thumbs down from me.

  13. ME?
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    And 10TH GRADE???? I HAVE IT IN 7TH!!!!!

  14. Bigguns
    Posted December 8, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    My brother in fourth grade could write something about the book better than this.. Im sorry but whoever wrote this needs to go back and get an education.. Grow up and stop trying to be somebody your not because your obviously not a writter!!

  15. Posted December 10, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Who said he was TRYING to be a writer?…I wonder If your brother can even UNDERSTAND the book without having it explained to him?

  16. MMm
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Mind you, I am also a 10th grader who detests writing, but…

    This made me laugh. I understand that you’re taking your education for granted and not even trying to succeed in this class, so why in the world would you publish this here?

    And, because my conscience will hate me if I don’t (also for the other readers who think they’ll get something good out of this), some mistakes:

    Finny WAS NOT jealous of Gene. This is such a huge point in the story, possibly the main point. Especially with the war going around, Gene only believed in so many external problems, such as as mutual jealousy between him and Finny. Phineas was the only light, the only sense of hope in that entire group of friends. The contrast is so amazing. But because of everyone else’s issues, be it envy or insecurity, the problems were made. And the one person who believed in innocence dies. If that message just got to someone, that’ll make me very happy.

    The other minor mistakes were already pointed out. If I have not wasted 2 minutes of your life, I hope this came as an insight :)

  17. Cookie
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    gave me somewhat of an idea to write my common task till kind of stuck but atleast got my intro

  18. Potatoe
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    This is a pretty good summary. Like you said, it is quick. It states what was on the surface of the text, however in some essays, the teacher may want you to go deeper into their characters and even the title of the book. If you look deeper, you could find that Gene symbolizes war and Finny symbolizes peace– even possibly Jesus. Now, I really dont know much about Jesus, but this is what we’re talking about in english class so you can take from this what you wish: Finny is pretty much perfect (as we precieve peace to be) and Gene is flawed (like war- people die- it’s not just hunky dory, gung ho, happiness). Also, Gene is always striving to be Finny (in war, we are always striving to achieve peace). And when there is war (Gene and his jealousy) there can’t be peace (Finny staying perfect and whole. Like when Gene jounced the limb and shattered Finny’s leg. Because of Gene, Finny got hurt). Now for the “Jesus aspect” of Finny, the author describes him as perfect, almost untouchable. And there is some point in the story where Finny stands on a boat and is described as (you’ll have to check for the exact text) magical kind of and standing in a Jesus type way with his arms out. Another example is when he comes beck to devon and waits in their room for Gene: Gene is walking up the steps of the building (steps to heaven), and see’s a light from inside the room- and he goes toward the light (going towards the light), and is met by Finny (aka Jesus) at in his room (the Gates of heaven). Anyway, you can interpret the text however you want, but you could possibly use this idea of deep symbolizm of war and peace in your paper to score some bonus points with your teacher (especially considering this is a story surrounding WWII).Obviously, there are more examples in the book, so you’ll have to check your book to have complete and and acurate analysis. Good Luck on your paper!

  19. somebody
    Posted January 10, 2010 at 2:46 am

    I like it and don’t worry you write better than a lot of people in this world and better than a 2nd grader you actually took your time writting this for peoples information and all they say is that you suck when i bet you many of them took advantage of your time…and ANYBODY can become a writer it just takes some people more practice than others :)

  20. blah
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    this is really bad. >:(

  21. Samm
    Posted March 6, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    wow. ugh im pretty sure its just a student doing watever he can to pass a class theres no need to be dicks i mean grow up.

  22. BOB KNIGHT
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    IT SUCKS

  23. Blaize
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 7:39 am

    He\’s in 10th grade for christ sakes, give em a break. He\’s a teenager posting his essay that he wrote for school on this sight, no need to come here and put him down for what he has done, if you don\’t have anything nice to say, don\’t say it. Simple

  24. Posted March 23, 2010 at 7:39 am

    He\\\’s in 10th grade for christ sakes, give em a break. He\\\’s a teenager posting his essay that he wrote for school on this sight, no need to come here and put him down for what he has done, if you don\\\’t have anything nice to say, don\\\’t say it. Simple

  25. Posted March 23, 2010 at 7:41 am

    He\\\\\\\’s in 10th grade for christ sakes, give em a break. He\\\\\\\’s a teenager posting his essay that he wrote for school on this sight, no need to come here and put him down for what he has done, if you don\\\\\\\’t have anything nice to say, don\\\\\\\’t say it. Simple

  26. linh
    Posted March 29, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    u read it in 10th grade i have it for 7th grade!!!

  27. christiana Irizarry
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    This book is so boring..im reading it in school an it puts me to sleep…………

  28. reba
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    kjdakljd;KLDJ OLP

    the comments helped me more than the essay did. but it was alright.

  29. miranda gale
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 9:37 am

    you guys r all stupid

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