Two Fearful Sites Essay

662 words - 3 pages

People must always move forward in life, however, this does not mean that past events do not influence a person's future actions. John Knowles' novel, A Separate Peace, highlights the essence of human character. Gene Forrester must come to terms with his dark side when he recalls his past actions. Hoping to accomplish this, Gene returns to Devon after 15 years to confront "two fearful sites" in order to gain a better understanding of himself and, hopefully, move on.
The first fearful site, a tree, which in his childhood, Gene had perceived as "a huge lone spike dominating the riverbank". It was at this very tree, that Gene's feelings of jealousy towards his best friend, Finny, culminated in Gene causing Finny to fall out of the tree and break his leg. Now, Gene perceives this tree as "shrunken by age", "pigmies" and "enfeebled, dry" which shows how much he has grown, both physically and mentally, during his time away. When he was young and "innocent", Gene allowed jealousy and rage to control his mind. His attitude towards Finny was entirely based upon the idea that there was a competition between Finny and him when, in fact, there was not. Now that he has matured, Gene does not hold jealousy and anger within himself as he did when he was at Devon. His personality changed even more during World War 2 and he was more caring than before. He tends not to be selfish and tries to be a better person than he was as a teenager. The war going on represents the war Gene created within himself. The war was as he said, "made by something ignorant in the human heart". Gene also accepts that he was his own enemy. By refusing to accept his feelings of insecurity, Gene had caused Finny's accident. This additional realization causes him to cease hating everybody. Instead, he tries to see the best in everybody and be more pure of heart like Finny was: "only Phineas never hated...

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