A Seperate Piece Essay

A Separate Peace – Gene’s Journey
Gene Forrester’s difficult journey towards maturity and the adult
world is a main focus of the novel, A Separate Peace, by John Knowles.
Gene’s journey begins the moment he pushes Phineas from the tree and
the process continues until he visits the tree fifteen years later.
Throughout this time, Gene must become self-aware, face reality and
the future, confront his problems, as well as forgive and accept the
person that he is. With the jouncing of the limb, Gene realizes his
problems and the true person he is inside. Fifteen years later, when
revisiting the tree, he finally accepts and forgives himself. This
journey is a long and painful one. At the end of this long and winding
road filled with ditches, difficulties and problems, Gene emerges a
mature adult.

Gene jounces the limb and causes Finny’s fall and at that moment
becomes aware of his inner-self and learns of his true feelings. This
revelation comes to him back in his room before he and Finny leave for
the tree. It surrounds him with the shock of his true self until he
finally reacts by jouncing the limb. Up in the tree, before the two
friends are about to make their double-jump, Gene sees Finny in this
new light. He realizes that Finny feels no jealousy or hatred towards
him and that Finny is indeed perfect in every way. Gene becomes aware
that only he is the jealous one. He learns of his animosity and that
he really is a savage underneath. Over a long period of time Gene
had been denying his feelings of hatred towards Finny, saying that it
was normal for him to feel this way. Now all of the feelings come back
to him and he sees how terrible he really is. The realization that
these feelings are one-sided causes Gene to to fall dramatically in
comparison to Finny (he paints himself black for these feelings and
because Finny doesn’t share them, he puts a halo around Finny’s head),
concludes with the neccessity for Finny to be brought down to his
level, and results with Gene jouncing the limb.
After the realization of the person he truly is, in his room and
up in the tree, Gene must now confront his problems, face reality,
and deal with the future. He must learn that communication is very
important in a relationship and that he must express himself instead
of keeping his feelings inside, as he had always done with Finny. He
must learn to listen to himself rather than to others. These were just
a few of the many problems there were in his relationship with Finny.
He must face reality and acknowledge the fact that he isn’t as great
as Finny, that he is his own individual person and that Finny isn’t as
perfect as he thought. Gene must accept the guilt for Finny’s
difficulties after his injury and must help Finny as a punishment and
act of repentence for his deed. Gene does this by giving a part of
himself to Finny as we see with the case of sports throughout the
rest of the novel – how Gene becomes Finny when it comes to sports.
Although the above are all of great importance, the greatest hurdle
Gene must overcome is learning to live with what he’s done. This
painful step is the one which will allow him to completely mature.

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The final stage of Gene’s maturation is his self-acceptence and
self-forgivness. He has to accept that he isn’t perfect and that he,
like any other normal being (even Finny), has faults. Accepting that
his innocence has been lost helps Gene move on into another part of
his life and realize that he can never return to the days of his
innocent youth again. He can now become a man, enter the war and adult
world and leave his youth behind. Forgiving himself is the step which
allows Gene to lead a normal life and enter society. He must finally
forgive himself completely for his blind act and allow himself to
come in out of the rain. By accepting as well as forgiving the
person that he is, Gene enables himself to move on and join the adult

Gene’s maturation is long, painful. It is a painful and difficult
process that reveals a darker side of Gene that he doesn’t
neccessarily wish to see. However painful, Gene is made a better
person during his maturation through his suffering. Through
his pain and awful revalations about himself, Gene matures from an
insecure child to a self-knowledgable adult.



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