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Factors Contributing to the Ups and Downs of Friendship in Knowles’ A Separate Peace

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The absence or presence of invidiousness has the potency to strengthen or dismember friendships. In John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, Gene Forrester and his daring roommate, Finny, discover the dangerous impact of enviousness on their friendship. Gene’s jealousy of Finny’s athletic capabilities, Finny’s unenviable thoughts and actions, and Brinker’s suspicions that Gene’s envy catalyzed Finny’s accident were all contributing factors to the ups and downs in Gene’s and Finny’s relationship. Detesting a friend for his/her successes can rupture even the strongest relationships. Gene’s invidiousness of Finny’s numerous sports achievements transforms into a resentful hatred. One day, when the boys are about to perform their daily ritual of…show more content…
When Finny jokingly says he was extremely envious of Gene one day, Gene bursts and unknowingly concludes that “all of [Finny’s] assertions of friendship were fake and [he] was only jealous of my success” (Knowles 34). Finny’s meaningless comment sparks Gene’s anger, invoking him to accuse Finny of befriending him only to bring him down. Gene’s sudden lash informs Finny of Gene’s distrust and jealousy of him. Similarly, Gene starts to feel a sense of betrayal from Finny, beginning to believe that Finny’s friendship is unreal. The argument, which is centered on Gene’s jealousy, slowly rips the boys away from one another, because of lack of trust in each other. Therefore, in this case, Gene’s envy tardily tore apart his relationship with Finny. However, the lack of invidiousness in a friendship fortifies the relationship even more. Repeatedly, throughout the book, Gene is astonished by Finny’s ability to be accepting of other’s successes, without exhibiting any envy or spite. As Gene’s past arguments with Finny display, Gene conceived that Finny was jealous of his academic success. On page 77, Gene’s ideas are disproven when Finny flaunts his admiration for Gene’s acquirement: “‘It [academics] seemed to come so naturally to you; I [Finny] never realized you had to study’” (Knowles 77). Finny’s words show his admiration for Gene’s drive to progress at what he
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