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In John Knowles’ “A Separate Peace” Gene is portrayed as “everyman” because every man is competitive, has tendencies to fail, and is jealous of others.

When they were climbing the tree to do a double jump Gene showed signs of man’s evil nature when he thought of pushing Finny from the tree. He also showed signs of hate and jealousy towards Finny when he created his new game and when he used his great athletic ability. Another human characteristic he showed was his happiness from his success he had in his school work. And courage when he decided to jump off the tree branch with Finny.

Every man has certain human traits that we all have in common. Hate, jealousy, courage, happiness, failure, and regret. These are only some of the characteristics that humans show to each other. Gene was a perfect example of these feelings therefore he was a good example of every man and how every man would react in these situations.

Gene showed a great change in how he felt as soon as Phineas dared him to jump from the tree. As Gene said, “It had loomed din my mind as a huge long spike dominating the riverbank, forbidding as an artillery piece, high as the beanstalk.” I know he probably felt that he had accomplished something in a way by jumping. Either one of his fears or something in the range of being accepted as one of Phineas’ close friends that he could finally now relate to now that he had done something that no one else felt they wanted to do. But there was always that one moment that Gene just completely stopped to think. Maybe it was that he was in shock and amazed at what he had just accomplished, but maybe it was to think about what could happen.

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If Gene continues on this path that Phineas had put him on would he become more popular, more significant to others as was Phineas. Maybe this just might make him even closer


friends with Phineas and they could balance out each other in popularity and academically as well. But this could never happen, Gene should of known this. Each person is their own

individual self and a goal to be exactly like one another would be impossible to achieve. Because of this it would create jealousy in one or the other, and maybe both. Then, this would bring envy, hate, and desire to succeed to what they could not have. In this case, the unlucky person is Gene. But that’s what makes him the perfect example of every man. He was his completely normal, regular self. Then, Phineas introduced something new that Gene was not used to and he liked it. In fact, he might of liked it too much which brought up a crude form of greed in Gene and that made him want more. More of what Phineas had given him and he wanted Phineas to give it to him. But finally, when he reached as far as he could go without becoming Phineas himself he decided to do just that. His greed turned into hate and Gene pushed Phineas from the tree taking him out of the picture for a while enabling him to exceed Phineas’ status as it was. Gene had realized that he hurt Phineas, one of his friends. But when he hears that Phineas may never be able to walk again he knew he had gone too far. So, instead of hate and desire Gene’s feelings changed and he suddenly wanted to help Phineas get back to where he was before. The place that Gene was so jealous of in the first place.

Besides some of his evil tendencies there are better qualities in him as well. For instance, when Phineas shows Gene that he could beat the old school record Gene says, “We should tell someone so you will get credit.” Gene even tries to help him with grades but he gives up easily and complains “that’s not my sort of thing, you’re better at it than I am.” But the truth is, if


Phineas really tried instead of whining about how he can’t do the work, then he might actually get some better grades. Maybe even as good as Gene’s.

A good example to show Gene acting as every man is when they went off to war. Of course by then all that was left of his classmates and Gene were all good friends again and some

have died and so on. But now it’s a whole new environment and an entirely new example with different feelings and actions. When they all first arrived on the battlefield Gene said, “We seemed to be nothing but children playing among heroic men.” When he said this he saw how the battle had become the only thing that meant anything to the old worn down men. He saw how the cruel battle had taken the lives of their friends and family and had destroyed the lives of many others. Even if some of the men had not really engaged in the battle but have just only been able to watch their fellow soldiers fight to the death before them, they became such heroes just for that. They realize later on in the war that they are not the heroes just because they fight in a battle. The ones who die out on the field are the heroes because they don’t get to come back to their friends and family when the war is over.

At the beginning Gene showed his true feelings about Phineas, or did he? You see that’s why Gene is the perfect example of every man. Because no matter how well one thinks one knows a person or how well one thinks one can tell what someone is thinking, there is always some little portion of themselves that they have hidden inside of them for no one to see. It could be because they choose not to show anyone or it could be because all it needs for it to completely come out of that person is a little stimulation. For example, and action, or something someone

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says, or an event but there’s always something that can be the catalyst that will help bring out the part of every man that every man does not always want to show.

So that’s basically what it means to be Gene as “everyman.” There is the hope that from this information it helped everyone to understand a little more about the book and this portion of the topic. Also, in addition to the story there is the hope that it helped everyone to understand more so everyone else and everyone else around them. From this one thinks that one can

conclude that most of the people around us that we thought were so different from ourselves, really aren’t all that much different altogether. We all have certain situations where we might all or just some of us react with forms of jealousy, hate, envy, desire, encouragement, and so on. It depends on the person, along with some people might react more intensely than others or not as much, but basically all this is trying to say is that we’re all human beings and we all do certain things. And now one might just know a little better as to why we do the things we do.

Works Cited

Bryant, Hallman Bell. A Separate Peace A War Within. Boston Twayne Publishers, 10

Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. New York Bantam books, 15

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