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A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace

by John Knowles

Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

To keep silent about this amazing happening deepened this shock for me. It made Finny seem too unusual for—not friendship, but too unusual for rivalry. And there were few relationships among us at Devon not based on rivalry (3.63).

This may have something to do with Gene's desire to become Phineas. Since he cannot compete with the boy, he doesn't know any other way to relate to him. He can't exist in relation to Finny, so he becomes one with Finny.

Quote #2

I spent as much time as I could alone in our room, trying to empty my mind of every thought, to forget where I was, even who I was. […] I decided to put on his clothes. […]

This gave me such intense relief […]. I would never stumble through the confusions of my own character again (5.4-5).

Gene loses his guilt because he abandons his identity, at least momentarily, by "becoming" Phineas.

Quote #3

"I just fell," his eyes were vaguely on my face, "something jiggled and I fell over. I remember I turned around and looked at you, it was like I had all the time in the world. I thought I could reach out and get hold of you."

I flinched violently away from him. "To drag me down too!" (5.25-6).

As their identities continue to mesh, Gene begins to identify elements of himself – and not such nice elements, at that – in Phineas.

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