A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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Analyze the role of competition in the relationship between Gene and Finny (not a summary of the role of competition in their relationship) in A Separate Peace.

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Gene has a competitive personality, a darker side of himself, that he doesn't like to acknowledge. As a result, he projects his deeply competitive nature onto Phineas. It isn't that he is competitive with Finny and wants to beat Finny and win, it's that Phineas wants to beat him and be number one—or so Gene wants to believe. As Gene suddenly begins to think:

If I was head of the class on Graduation Day and made a speech and won the Ne Plus Ultra Scholastic Achievement Citation, then we would both have come out on top, we would be even, that was all. We would be even.

Gene decides that Finny hates the idea of the two of them being even—Gene as top scholar and Finny as top athlete—and decides that Finny wants to pull out ahead. Suddenly, it becomes clear to Gene that Finny has been trying to sabotage his summer school studies by sucking up all his time with blitzball, the Super Suicide Society meetings, and trips to the beach. His friendship is fake—just a way to bring him down....

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