Artificial vs. Natural in A Seperate Peace

Artificial
vs. Natural in A Seperate Peace

Someone once said that being yourself,
being who you are, is a successful rebellion. Gene Forrester, one of the
main characters in John Knowles\'s novel, A Separate Peace should have taken
this advice. Throughout the novel, Gene acted artificially, disguising
his true self. He lived in fear of people finding out what he was really
like. Phineas, Gene\'s best friend and the other main character in this
novel, on the other hand, acted naturally around people. He was not afraid
of people seeing who he really was. In John Knowles\'s novel, A Separate

Peace, Gene acted artificially, while Phineas acted naturally.

To begin with, Gene Forrester acted artificially.

There are several instances throughout the novel where Gene disguises himself
or is influenced by artificial things. Towards the beginning of the novel

Gene tells the reader that he was a half inch taller than Finny ("I had
been claiming five feet nine inches before he became my roommate..." (Gene

Pg. 8) and that Finny weighed ten pounds more than he did. "He weighed
a hundred and fifty pounds, a galling ten pounds more than I did..." (Gene

Pg. 8) Because Gene mentioned those facts, the reader can tell that even
having a slight height and weight advantage or disadvantage to Finny were
important to him. What people, especially Finny, thought about him worried
him. "...I would have lost face with Phineas, and that would have been
unthinkable." (Gene Pg. 26) Later in the novel, when Finny wanted to wear
a pink shirt to school, Gene told him it would make him look like a "fairy".

"Pink! It makes you look like a fairy!\' (Gene Pg. 17) Gene knew that people
might question Finny\'s masculinity and ridicule him so he spoke up. Gene
would have never taken such a risk as wearing a pink shirt because it was
not socially acceptable at Devon School. This again points out Gene\'s obsession
with what people thought of him. Gene had a cautious, competitive nature
and let grades and trying to outdo Finny run his life. When Finny broke
the school\'s swimming record, Gene did not understand why he did not want
people to know about it. "The worst thing is that there weren\'t any witnesses.

Tomorrow. We\'ll get the coach here, and all the official timekeepers, and

I\'ll call up the Devonian and send a reporter and a photographer-...Not
say anything about it! When you broke the school record!" (Gene Pg. 36)

Gene would have wanted awards and praise for breaking a school record which
shows again how highly he values artificial things. Grades also played
an important part in Gene\'s life and he measured himself by what his class
rank was. He pretended to not care about his studies, but Finny saw right
through him. "Don\'t give me that line...You want to be head of the class,
valedictorian, so you can make a speech on Graduation Day...I know you."
(Finny Pg. 43) Later on, Finny convinces Gene to go to the beach with him.

While Finny runs and frolics in the water, having a good time, enjoying
nature, Gene only worries about what time it is and whether he will be
able to pass his exam. "I looked at the sky and the ocean and knew it was
around six-thirty. The ride back to Devon would take three hours at least.

My important test, trigonometry, was going to be held at ten o\'clock."
(Gene Pg. 42) This is just another example of how time, schedules, and
grades play an important part in Gene\'s life. While at the beach, Finny
tells Gene that he is his "best pal". Gene does not reply and tell him
that he is his best pal, but instead, keeps quiet. Instead of being completely
honest and open with Finny, Gene chooses to mask his true emotions. He
knew if someone ever found out about him saying something like that, that
it would be "the next thing to suicide". (Gene Pg. 40) This obsession with
grades and other unnatural things leads Gene to believe that there is an
intense competition going on between himself and Finny. He convinces himself
that they are "even in enmity". (Gene Pg. 46) He feels nervous about all
the influence Finny has over him and is suspicious about Finny always taking
him away from his studies. "Finny had deliberately set out to ruin my studies...it
was all cold trickery, it was all calculated, it was all enmity." (Gene

Pg. 45) From that point on, Gene becomes "quite the