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Friends Versus Enemies in A Separate Peace Essay


In life we have many friends that help us, and are there for us. However at the same time we have enemies that dont respect you at all, and are out too get you. A similar conflict like this occurs in the novel A Separate Peace By John Knowles. The conflict is a friend vs. enemy, between the two main characters Finny and Gene.

First, Finny is the most prized character at Devon school because of his great athletic ability. However his roommate Gene is not the greatest athlete but has great academic ability, but just having this and not being number one is a real hard situation for him. Since they are roommates Finny starts too have a strong relationship with Gene, and this can be shown when Finny saves Genes life when he is in the tree, Yes he practically saved my life. He also practically lost it for me. I wouldnt have been on that damn limb except for him. I wouldnt have turned around, and so lost my balance, if he hadnt been there. I didnt need to feel any tremendous rush of gratitude toward Finny.(33). What Gene is trying to say is that he doesnt give any respect for Finny for saving his life because he really doesnt like him, Finny did this because he cares about Gene and wouldnt want anything to happen to him. Another way that Finny tries to show his deep friend ship for Gene when they are at the beach. They are there all day at the beach and then they decide to stay over night and sleep on the dunes, but before they fall asleep Finny tells Gene that he is his best friend, in response Gene has no answer for him but thinks that, I should have told him then that he was my best friend also and rounded off what he had said. I started to; I nearly did. But something held me back. Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth."(40). Finny has said this because he believes that Gene is his best friend, but deep down for Gene he doesnt want to be his friend, and rather than think of Finny as a friend he thinks of him as an enemy.

While Finny has his friend relationship with Gene, Gene also has a conflict towards Finny and he thinks of him as his enemy. Gene gets upset that he isnt number one in the school and the only thing in his way tends to be Finny because he is the one with the top spot in the school. Gene doesnt think of Finny as a friend but rather an enemy because he is the only thing standing in his way. Gene shows this towards Finny when Finny has the crazy idea to jump off the tree by the river with Gene. Gene agrees to this and Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud. It was the first clumsy physical action I had ever seen him make. With unthinking sureness I moved out on the limb and jumped into the river, every trace of my fear of this forgotten.(60). Gene deliberately shook the limb of the tree that Finny was on so he would fall, in this case Finny couldnt walk and Gene now thinks that he is going to be number one because he took out his enemy. The final reason why Gene thinks Finny is his enemy is what he says at the end of the book, I never killed anybody and I never developed an intense level of hatred for the enemy. Because my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there.(204). After Finny died, Gene decides to join the Army, but he says that he never developed a hatred for the enemy because he killed his enemy a while ago back at Devon. The enemy that Gene is talking about is Finny. Since Finny has died Gene now can rest easy because his task is complete because of Finneys death.

In conclusion, there is a big conflict of Friends vs. Enemy in the novel A Separate Peace. This is seen by Finny wanting Gene too be his best friend, and Gene having Finny as his enemy. But all in all, Friends and enemies are a part of life and everyone in our world today has to deal with this some sort of way.

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