Separate Peace

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. 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 world. 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.