A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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In A Separate Peace, what lesson is Knowles trying to teach the reader?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Throughout the novel, Knowles examines self-esteem issues, jealousy, and the duality of human nature. Although Gene is fascinated and drawn towards Finny, his lack of self-esteem leads to feelings of envy. Gene cannot fully admire Finny without overwhelming feelings of jealousy. Gene slowly begins to resent Finny for his extraordinary abilities and talents, which makes him feel less accomplished. Gene feels like Finny's equal only after Finny breaks his leg. Overall, Knowles illustrates how adolescent insecurities can have disastrous results. He also teaches the reader that the perception of oneself should not be determined on the talents of another. If Gene were comfortable with his own...

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