In "A Separate Peace," what has Gene learned about friendship, jealousy, and hatred?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At sixteen, Gene is competitive and insecure, causing him to look for the bad in people rather than the good. He can't believe that Finny is truly good. Gene is jealous of Finny's ability in athletics, but he is even more jealous of Finny's outgoing, carefree personality. Finny has charisma, that personable asset which draws people to him. Finny is also an innocent young man. He doesn't have a vindictive, jealous bone in his body, and it's this realization that Gene can't deal with when he realizes Finny isn't jealous of Gene's intelligence. Finny is a good friend to Gene, but Gene is unable to show that kind of friendship to Finny because of his jealousy. Gene finally matures, realizing what a horrible thing he's done. He explains to Finny just before Finny's death that "it was just some ignorance inside me, some crazy thing inside me, something blind". He tells Finny that he didn't plan to shake the limb, and Finny accepts Gene's apology. Set against the background of World War II, Gene has lived with his own war for many years and doesn't achieve peace until he finally accepts that jealousy and hatred undermined his ability to be a friend to anyone.  

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A Separate Peace

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