Describe Quackenbush and Gene's realization about him. How are these two boys similar?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We learn about Quackenbush in Chapter 6, when Gene shows up to take over the position of assistant senior crew  manager. Gene says,

...[T]here was something wrong about him.  I didn't know exactly what it was. 

Gene goes on to explain that Quackenbush had no nickname and that no one referred to him by his first name, sure signs of dislike.  He also suggests that Quackenbush might have been disliked because he had physically matured before his classmates.  

Gene sees there will be hostility between himself and Quackenbush because Quackenbush had been disliked and insulted the entire time he had been at the school, and he perceived Gene to be someone beneath him, someone he could bully. 

At this point, as downtrodden as Gene might feel, he strikes back and actually hits Quackenbush.  Gene says he is doing this for Finney, but I do not think he is a reliable narrator at this point, at least insofar as analyzing his own actions is concerned.   

Since Gene appears to be a quiet and not particularly popular fellow himself, having really been riding on Finney's coattails throughout the story, what Quackenbush and Finney seem to have in common is not being liked by their classmates. It is also possible that Gene is capable of being a bully, too, since he does have a somewhat cowardly moral fiber.  If I were a psychiatrist, though, I would classify him as more passive-aggressive than just aggressive. 

Read the study guide:
A Separate Peace

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