“It seemed clear that wars were not made by generations and their special stupidities, but wars were made instead by something ignorant in the human heart.”
The background of “A separate Peace” is the Second World War and the focus of book is a group of sixteen-year-old boys who are moving towards a war. The extract comes from the end of the book where Due to what Gene had done to Finny, he has been made to look at himself and now sees the war differently from the other boys. Gene has been forced to face his own “ignorant heart,” and he now feels that he understands that people can be evil and hurt those who love them. Gene now knows that wars are created not by generations but by the human “ignorant heart”.
In “A separate Peace” there are two wars being fought. The major war is Word War Two while the other war is the one that Gene tries to create between himself and Finny. This is war is always a single sided battle, as it is both created and fought in the mind of Gene.
At the beginning of this novel Gene is very “Ignorant” of his heart. He constantly lies, not only to others but also to him self. Finny on the other hand is a very honest person, he never lies about anything to make him sound or feel better about himself. An example of this is the incident where the boys are asked their height and Genes says he is 5’9 and Finny corrects him by saying, “no your five foot eight and a half, the same as me.” This quote shows the honesty that Finny possesses and that Gene lacks. Gene refuses to admit that he isn’t tall while Finny openly admits it. Gene refuses to admit that he isn’t brave or that his motives for injuring Finny where entirely false. Gene cannot face what he is and this leads to tragedy.
Because Gene is dishonest he imagines that everyone else is as well. Gene imagines that Finny’s character is exactly the same as his, which of course it isn’t. Gene builds up hate, anger and fear of the character that he has given to Finny. Since this is his own character and not Finny’s at all, the emotions that Gene feels towards this character are really what he feels towards his own character. Gene starts to believe that every thing Finny does has a cruel intention, this of course is entirely false. He even believes that Finny took him to the beach because Finny had low grades and wanted to lower Gene’s grades so that he would be better than him Academically.
Gene is also very jealous of Finny. Gene’s feelings of jealousy wouldn’t have been a major problem, but when anger and jealousy are lurking in the same domain, they prove to be a deadly combination. Gene envious of Finny’s ability to be a non-conformist and not care what anyone thought of him. Once Finny went as far as to wear a pink shirt, in an era where pink worn by males suggests that they are gay , this really shows what a strong character Finny has. Gene on the other hand is a definite conformist, he is constantly striving to be seen as great by others. This is why when Finny brakes the school one hundred yards free style record without any training Gene cannot understand why Finny whishes to keep it quiet.
Finny loves Gene, and Gene doesn’t seem to understand why a great person like Finny would want to be friends with him, so he begins to think of their friendship as a competition. As the book continues Gene begins to feel very threatened by Finny and starts to think of him as the enemy. Throughout the entire one-sided rivalry that Gene creates, Finny is totally oblivious to what is going on. This is made even clearer in the instance were Gene was studying for a test and Finny invites him to the tree and Gene explodes at him. Finny shows how oblivious he is to this rivalry when he says “I didn’t know you needed to study, I didn’t think you ever did. I thought it just came to you.”
Gene’s hate, anger, jealousy, and fear finally climax when the pair decide to do a double jump from the tree and Gene jounces the limb causing Finny to fall, “I took a step towards him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then tumbled sideways.” Gene cripples the best athlete in the school and his best friend and this eventually leads to Finny’s death.
Gene’s admission to being responsible for Finny’s fall hurts Finny so much that he refuses to listen to him, so Gene is forced to lie to him. Gene tells Finny that it was a “blind impulse” and nothing personal. Finny dies at the end of the novel due to a fall down the marble stairs, this rushes him into surgery where some of his bone-marrow seeps into his blood stream, stopping his heart and he dies. Gene never cried, not then, or after the funeral, because Gene had become an extension of Finny and “you can’t cry at your own funeral.”
Gene does enter the war, Gene says that he killed his enemy at school, I believe this enemy not to be Finny but Gene’s “ignorant heart.” he realizes that Brinker was wrong about how wars are created, Gene now knows that wars are created by “something ignorant in the human heart.” Gene has overcome his own “ignorant heart”, and has become Finny, all his hate, fear, jealousy and anger are now gone from him, Finny has taken them with him to his grave.