Even people with contrasting personalities can end up the best of friends. In A Separate Peace a novel about the war by John Knowles, two teenage boys realize this. Gene and Finny are two completely different people, but despite their differences, they have a strong friendship. They are best friends as well as roommates that attend Devon school in New Hampshire during WWII.
Even though Gene and Finny are best friends, they contrast in confidence, competitiveness, academics, and athletics. Gene and Finny differ in confidence in many ways. Finny is very confident in that he is not afraid to just be himself. He plays sports and happens to be very good at them. He wears a pink sweater and doesn't care what anyone thinks of him. When he can't play sports, He gets a little upset, but still keeps a good attitude.
He is very outgoing and can be himself. Gene on the other hand, has very low self esteem and seems to be a follower of Finny. He is always trying to be like him and wears his clothes. The day after the accident at the tree, as Gene looks in the mirror with Finny's pink sweater on, he says "I felt like some nobleman, some Spanish grandee." (pg. 62) Even though he is very smart and at the top of his class, it's not enough, because Finny gets more attention and this makes Gene jealous. Even though he lacks confidence he does show bravery when he stands up to Brinker and the boys in the butt room.
The boys are all teasing Gene about the accident at the tree and he makes it all into a big joke by saying "first I stole all his money. Then I found that he cheated on his entrance tests to Devon and I blackmailed his parents about that, then I made love to his sister in Mr. Ludsbury's study, then I. ." (pg. 90) Another quality that Gene and Finny differ in is academics and athletics. Gene is very smart and top of his class.
He cares about his grades, and wants to be valedictorian. When he fails his trigonometry test because of not studying, he gets very upset and says "I flunked it; I knew I was going to as soon as I looked at the test problems." (pg. 50) He spends a lot of time studying and always tries to put school work first. He is also good at sports but isn't as interested in them as much as he is in his grades, which he spends most of his time on. Finny is practically the opposite in that he doesn't care about grades and isn't the brightest student. He focuses more on having fun and playing sports.
He enjoys hanging with the guys and jumping from the tree. He is very athletic and talented. He invents blitz ball and is very creative. All the boys know he is the best at sports and they usually listen to his ideas.
Finny and Gene are both interested in one thing and they are very good at what they like to do. Gene is very competitive and tries to be like Finny, while Finny just does what he can and isn't concerned with whose better or more athletic. Since Gene is jealous of Finny, one day at the tree, as they were about to jump off together, Gene pushes Finny off. This shows that Gene is very competitive, because he wanted to look better for once. Gene explains "And I thought we were competitors! It was so ludicrous I wanted to cry." (pg. 66) One day when Finny breaks the school swim record and tells Gene not to tell anyone, Gene gets angry.
He thinks that Finny is trying to impress him. He says "Was he trying to impress me or something? Not tell anybody? When he had broken the school record with out a day of practice?" (pg. 44) Finny really just wants the boy who earned the record to keep it but Gene takes it the wrong way. While Gene is too concerned with who is better, Finny is oblivious to this and thinks both he and Gene are great people of equal talents. Gene seems too uptight and is always comparing himself to Finny. Even though Gene and Finny are both very different and their personalities differ in confidence, competitiveness, and athletics and sports, they have developed a close friendship.
As Gene grows up throughout the novel he learns a lot about friendship. This novel, by John Knowles, shows that even the two most different people can develop the strongest friendship. It can be tough, but if you stick together and stay strong, it will all turn out okay in the end.