How does competition affect people in the J. Knowles's novel A Seperate Peace?
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Competition creates false perceptions; those false perceptions lead to jealousy, resentment, and even hatred; then, those deep negative feelings, if not addressed, can emerge during a moment of weaknes and insecurity, thus creating an equation for disaster. In Knowles's novel, A Separate Peace, competition creates such a situation for Gene and Phineas. Young kids generally measure themselves by those with whom they associate; so, it seems natural for competition to arise between two best friends. However, this competition crosses the line whenever vindictiveness or anger lead to violence as it did for Gene when he deliberately jounces Finny off of a tree branch, the result of which is a broken leg. Eventually, Gene does come to the conclusion that he says is a "single sustaining thought;" Gene realizes, "You and Phineas are even already. You are even in enmity. You are both coldly driving ahead for yourselves alone. You did hate him for breaking that school swimming record, but so what? He hated you for getting an A in every course but one last term. You would have had an A in that one except for him. Except for him" (53). It takes the whole novel for the boys to finally come around to appreciate each other and to forgive for all the competitiveness that they created, but at least that closure was there before Finny died.
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