Overcoming Obstacles In John KnowlesA Separate Peace
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In A Separate Peace, a novel by John Knowles, there is a tree that overhangs a river that is a central symbol in this story of losing your innocence, rich and poor, fear, and jealousy. The tree symbolizes an obstacle that was unattainable to Gene. It also separated Gene from Finny because Gene was always scared of jumping from the tree into the river. Finny, on the other hand, had no fear.
On page sixty, the narrator Gene says, "Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud." In this passage, it clearly symbolizes that when Gene jounced the limb and made Finny fall, he had finally defeated Finny in a competition Finny had always won. This competition was not just a physical one, but challenged them in their minds psychologically as well. The competition was involving fear and who was bold enough to overcome this huge obstacle of jumping from the tree. The tree is the symbol for their fear. When Finny fell from the tree, the narrator says on page sixty, "I moved out on the limb and jumped into the river, every trace of my fear of this forgotten." This is evidence that Gene had defeated his fear and jumped off the tree without a doubt in his mind.
The tree was looked at as a place