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In The novel A separate Peace by John Knowles various themes of inadequacy, jealousy,and rage all are put in to effect. Inadequacy is a consideration of why Gene jounced thelimb. Gene felt inadequate because he was not athletic like Phineas was. Phineas was ableto do any sport, he even invented a game: ” ‘We’ll call it blitzkrieg ball,” said Bobby. “Orjust blitzball, said Finny. Yes blitzball.” (29). It is here that Gene feels that he is inadequateat playing sports, by how Phineas is picking on him and, putting him in the spotlight.Self-confidence is another part of why Gene feels inadequate. Gene is quoted by thinking:”It was a couragous thing to say. Exposing a sincere emotion nakedly like at the DevonSchool was the next thing to suicide. I should have told him then that he was my bestfriend also and rounded off what he had said. I started to; I nearly did. But something heldme back. Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, whichcontains the truth.” (40). Gene not saying that he considers Phineas his best friend is a wayof showing that he had no self-confidence in expressing his true feelings. No zest or zealpays a role in Gene’s inadequacy. ” I became quite a student after that. I had always been agood one, although I wasn’t really interested an excited by learning itself ” (48). Gene isjust learning for the sake of learning; unlike Chet Douglass who found something he likedand got taken up by it. Jealousy is a regard to Gene jouncing the limb. Gene protests too

much, which is made clear when Gene is thinking to himself: ” Now I knew there neverwas and never could have been any rivalry between us.” (51). It is also shown earlier in thenovel while Gene is reflecting on the tie incident: “He had gotten away with everything. Ifelt a sudden stab of disappointment.”(21). Gene believes Phineas is too good. ” ‘You’retoo good to be true’, I said after a while.” (36). Gene is upset with Phineas breaking theschool swimming record, and not telling anyone. Gene feels that Phineas is just trying toshow off for him. Rage had a play on Gene jouncing the limb. Gene may have been ragedby finding out Phineas wasn’t trying to undermine his studies: “He looked at me with aninterested, surprised expression. ‘You want to study?’ I began to feel a little uneasy at thismildness of his, so I sighed heavily. ‘Never mind, forget it. I know, I joined the club, I’mgoing. What else can I do? ‘ I didn’t know you needed to study,’ he said simply, ‘I didn’tthink you ever did. I thought it just came to you.’” (49). Condescending is also a reasonwhy Gene is in a rage. ” Finny’s hand shot out and grabbed my arm I turned backtoward the river”(24). Gene demonstrates that Phineas is treating him like a younger childrather than a mature teenager. Then to make matters worse Phineas suggests that he andGene do a double jump, this was the last straw for Gene. Inadequacy, jealousy, and rageall lead to Gene’s desperation to get rid of, so to speak, Phineas. And in the end Gene’sdesperation led to Phineas’ death.


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