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A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace


by John Knowles

A Separate Peace Theme of Jealousy

Jealousy is just one of a slew of negative emotions in A Separate Peace, among them fear and resentment. What makes these feelings so difficult is that they're accompanied by admiration, respect, and love – all the ingredients for one very confusing friendship between adolescent boys. We see that jealousy drives people to unthinkable and incomprehensible action, understood least of all by those responsible for it.

Questions About Jealousy

  1. Gene states in Chapter Three that "Phineas always had a steady and formidable flow of usable energy" (3.40). When this sort of energy is gone – say, long after the accident, when Finny stands with Gene outside the gym, catching his breath and balanced on crutches – does Gene still envy him?
  2. Does Gene's jealousy of Phineas abate at any point? When? Why? How do you know?
  3. Is jealousy ever constructive in A Separate Peace?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Gene's biggest flaw is his inability to distinguish between amiable competition and destructive jealousy.

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