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A Seperate Piece Essay

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Everyone has the biggest say in who they are, and who they become. However, the people around an individual also have an immense impact on how a person develops their character. The friends we know and trust have an impact in who we are by judging our actions, serving as a comparison to ourselves, and by influencing our emotions with their own. In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the character of Finny heavily influences his best friend Gene, and exhibits the aforementioned actions while doing so.

The biggest fear of doing or completing an action is being judged. Individuals can judge themselves, yet people tend to value other’s opinions of themselves over their own. Throughout A Separate Peace, Finny judges every act of Gene’s with criticism and opinions, and it causes Gene to change and form new characteristics. “’If you’re really good at something, I mean if there’s nobody, or hardly anybody, who’s as good as you are, then you’ve got to be serious about that. Don’t mess around, for God’s sake.’ He [Finny] frowned disapprovingly at me.” (58) In Finny’s frown, Gene views himself as incompetent and eventually develops a competitive spirit towards his friend.

The constant вЂ?competition of boys’ is mentioned several times in the novel, and part of the competition is the endless comparisons between the boys, and who is вЂ?better’ or best at a certain sport or game. Even though Gene and Finny hardly show their spirit of competition on the outside, Gene’s dialogue reveals that he is heavily influenced when comparing himself with Finny. “You are both coldly driving ahead for yourselves alone. You did hate him [Finny] for breaking the school swimming record, but so what? He hated you for getting an A in every course but one last term.” (53) This relentless assessment between himself and Finny influences Gene to develop a distinct hatred of Finny, which may have contributed to his impulsive action to “jounce the limb,” making Finny fall. This direct influence of Finny’s competition changed the lives of Gene and Finny forever, and reveals Gene’s susceptibility to a friend’s seemingly friendly competition.

Although competition



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