Gene feels increasing hostility toward Finny before his fall from the
tree. In the novel A SEPARATE PEACE by John Knowles, the hostility
between Gene and Finny increase because of the competition inside of them
both to be better then one another. It is about the increasing competition
between Gene and Finny and the hostility it brings. The hostility finally burst
inside Gene and for one instant it takes over. It makes him do something he
will always regret. Gene’s increasing hostility towards Finny finally brings
the down fall of their friendship.
Gene’s first form of hostility toward Finny was the realization that
Finny could get away with anything. First instance was when Finny was
wearing his emblem, the pink button-down shirt, and Mr. Patch-Withers
came up to him. Mr. Patch-Withers ask him about the shirt and Finny told
him the meaning of the shirt. As he explained the substitute headmaster
became more amused about the situation and allowed Finny to get away
with breaking the school dress code. After this instance Gene admitted to
being envious of Finny in this Quote, “I was beginning to see that Phineas
could get away with anything. I couldn’t help envying him that a little,
which is perfectly normal. There was no harm in envying your best friend
a little.” (18) In this quote Gene is just saying that he envies his best
friend for some thing that he can’t do. This situation is the first of many
forms of hostility towards Finny that brings about the incident in the tree.
At the Patch-Withers party anther sign of Gene’s increasing envy towards
Finny is shown. This happens when Finny again gets away with breaking
the dress code. At the party when discussing the bombing of Europe, Mr.
Patch-Withers discovers that Finny is wearing the school tie with his pink
shirt. With some quick anecdotes about how his shirt is a contribution to
the war effort and also be glad he wore a belt because his pants could fall
down. With these quick anecdotes Finny got away with it, gave Mr.
Patch-Withers a good laugh and enraged Gene’s envy towards Finny.
Gene gave this quote about the instance, “He (Finny) had gotten away
with everything. I felt a sudden stab of disappointment........” (21) Gene
really does not know what he is feeling he says, but deep down it is his
growing envy towards Finny and how he is better at getting away with
things. Gene has growing feelings of envy towards his best friend and
how he can get away with things that most other people cannot get away
Gene’s envy increases to resentment of Finny making him do things
he does not want to do. The first resentment is when Finny manipulates
Gene into jumping out of the tree and into the water. The only reason he
resents this is that it was Fine’s fault he was up in the tree. “I (Gene)
wouldn’t have been on that darn limb except for him. I wouldn’t have
turned around ‘ and so I lost my balance, if he hadn’t been there.” (25)
Gene blames Finny for him almost falling even though it wasn’t really
Finny’s fault. Gene is so envious of Finny that he does not want Finny to
be one step better then him for saving his life. He twists the truth to make
it seem like it was Finny’s fault for him almost falling. Gene also resents
the fact that Finny made up Blitzball around his physical abilities. Finny
adapted the game to his own physical abilities so he could excel at it. It
made a game of strength, endurance, and speed just what Finny’s abilities
were. “Right from the start it was clear that no one had ever been better
adapted to sports than Finny was to Blitzball.” (31) Gene is envious of
Finny making up a game that he was going to be naturally good at so, in
Gene’s mind, he can be better then him and make him look bad. His last
resentment is of Finny tring to impress him with his athletic abilities. How
he does this is when they first find out about a school swim record that
has not been broken for four years. Finny broke the record but he does not
want Gene to tell any body about it. He says he just wanted to see if he
could do it. Gene takes it differently, as Finny trying to impress him.