One of the themes portrayed in the novel, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, is sometimes one’s greatest enemy is oneself. Gene himself is a shrewd teenager. Every time, when there is a test, Gene would always study for it. Unlike Finny, who would always wing it. One day, Finny took Gene to the beach to watch the sunset. Since it was too late to go back, they slept overnight at the beach. In the morning, Gene realized he had a trigonometry test. He tried to get back to his boarding school, but Finny delayed him because he wanted to swim. This was the first time Gene didn’t study for a test. Gene learned that Finny was jealous of his good grades, that he wanted to sabotage his academics. So Gene tried to do the same for Finny on his sports. He shook the tree branch that Finny was on the edge of, and he fell off the tree onto the bank. Later on, when Finny passed away, Gene then realized Finny didn’t want to ruin his grades, he just wanted to have fun. Gene had “killed” his best friend because his evil side triumphed over his good side. “You did hate him for breaking that school swimming record, but so what? He hated you for getting an A in every course but one last term. You would have had an A in that one except for him. Except for him.” (24, Knowles) Gene was convincing himself that Phineas was a threat to him and that everything was Finny’s fault.
My found poem showed that Gene had two sides in him, evil and good. He was very indecisive. He envied and hated Finny, meanwhile, he liked to hang out with Finny. “I was Phineas, Phineas to the life. I even had his humorous expression in my face, his sharp, optimistic awareness.” (29) This emphasizes that Gene was not only jealous of Finny’s sports skills but also his personality.