Negative Peer Pressure Depicted In Knowles' A Separate Peace And Plath's Initiation

722 words - 3 pages

“To follow or not to follow?” is the conflict of both A Separate Peace by John Knowles and Initiation by Sylvia Plath. Each main character must choose what action to take; however, it is the way they choose that sets these stories apart. Different examples of conformity in each book yield different results, showing readers potential outcomes of decision making.
In a Separate Peace, the main character, Gene Forrester, is constantly pressured into rebelling against the school rules by his best friend Phineas, or “Finny”. Throughout the story it is obvious that Gene is jealous of his friend and therefore succumbs to the pressure Finny puts on him to temporarily find peace with himself. Because he is constantly following the crowd, Gene begins to lose his individuality and finds himself overwhelmed with jealousy. He risks Phineas’ life by shaking the branch of a tree they jump off of, which disables him and ultimately leads to his death. The boys’ friends feel that they need someone to blame for Finny’s tragic injury, so they hold a mock trial to investigate. Gene is under constant pressure at this trial because his peers are looking for him to confess that he was to blame for the accident. Finny also feels obligated to draw a conclusion about what really occurred on the day of the accident. The result of the mock trial made Phineas aware that Gene was the reason he fell, which finally led to the end of the boys’ friendship. In this novel, John Knowles makes it apparent of the potential adverse effects of giving into peer pressure, which is the main purpose of the story.
Initiation by Sylvia Plath is a short story that depicts the transformation of Millicent, a teenager that feels pressured to join a sorority. She begins as a girl who is following the crowd, embarrassing herself and being taken advantage of in order to be initiated into the group. As she completes each juvenile task she is forced to complete, Millicent begins to realize that what she is doing is actually quite ridiculous. By giving into peer pressure and finishing the initiation challenges, she...

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