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A Separate Piece

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In the novel A Separate Peace, the author John Knowles creates a unique relationship between the two main characters Gene Forrester and Phineas, also known as Finny. The boys have a love hate relationship, which becomes the base of the problems throughout the book. The setting of this novel, a preparatory school in New Hampshire known as Devon, creates a peaceful environment where World War will not corrupt the boys. The boys might be protected from the war, but they are not protected from each other. Throughout the book Finny manipulates Gene. These reoccurring manipulations cause Gene to follow in Finny's footsteps and begin to live through Finny. The lives of the two boys change dramatically when an accident occurs. Instead of Gene living through Finny, Finny begins to live through Gene.

In the beginning to the middle of the book Gene lives through Finny. '"Come on,' drawled Finny from below, 'stop standing there showing off.'...'Jump!'"(Knowles 9). Finny thought of an extremely adventurous idea. He decided that he wanted to jump out of a tree into the river below. Finny also wanted the other boys that were with him to jump out of the tree. After Finny jumped he attempted to persuade Gene to follow his lead and jump out of the tree. Gene, a very conservative individual, did not even dream of ever jumping out of the tree but Finny got his way. Gene climbed the tree and jumped into the river because Finny manipulated him to. '"Studying! You know, books. Work. Examinations'" (Knowles 49). Finny has come to tell Gene that one of the boys named Leper has finally decided to jump out of the tree into the river. Gene finally explodes and starts screaming at Finny. Gene tells Finny that he needs to study for the French final and that he cannot be wasting his time with a silly game. At this moment in time, Finny finally realized that Gene actually has to study in order to get good grades. Finny always thought that school for Gene came just as easily as sports did for him. When Finny realizes this he tells Gene that he has to study. '"Don't move from that desk. It's straight A's for you'"(Knowles 50). All of a sudden Gene became perplexed. He could not understand that Finny was actually telling him to stay home and study. This event confused Gene so much that he ended up going to watch Leper jump from the tree. '"Wait just a minute. I'm coming'"(Knowles 51). Once again Finny could manipulate Gene into going or doing what Finny wants him to do. "Going there risked exploitation, destroyed the studying I was going to do for an important test the next also involved the kind of long labored bicycle ride I hated. 'All right' I said"(Knowles 37). Finny has just broken the school swimming record but makes Gene promise not to tell a soul. Finny decides that swimming in a pool is not good enough, that he wants to go to the beach. Even though Gene has an enormous trigonometry test to study for and he never disobeys the rules, Gene still goes because Finny manipulates him. Gene's going to the beach causes him to fail his test. This is the first failing grade he has ever received and it is all because Finny manipulates him to go to the beach even though he really does not want to. Gene's failing the test finally makes him consider that Finny keeps trying to ruin his grades so that he cannot be top of the class. This brings many feeling of hatred towards Finny into Gene.

Finny has manipulated Gene so much that Finny has become part of Gene. "In any case I was already late for my next appointment"(Knowles 67) Before Gene became such good friends with Finny, he would never consider being late for something or not even showing up but Finny has begun to rub off just a little bit on Gene. Gene has an appointment to go see Brinker, one of his classmates, but he decides not to show up. Then he has to go down to the Crew House to begin boating, but he shows up late. It would be understandable if Finny were with Gene that this could happen, but Gene is all by himself. No one could manipulate him. Gene decides by himself to be late and skip the meeting. This demonstrates how Gene is beginning to take on some of Finny's traits. "I was Phineas, Phineas to the life"(Knowles 54). One day, when getting dressed for dinner, Gene decides to wear Finny's clothes to dinner. Gene put on Finny's pants, shoes and a ridiculous pink shirt. When Gene looks into the mirror, he sees Finny staring back at him. The clothes are not the only thing that makes Gene feel like Finny, there



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