At the core of the conflict between Gene and Finny is Gene's desire to be more like Finny, or even to become him. Gene's jealousy of Finny corrupts their friendship and leads Gene to "jounce" Finny out of the tree. Some of Gene's jealous feelings toward Finny are casual, such as his desire for Finny's carefree charm. Others are more deeply rooted, so much so that even Gene doesn't understand their origin. For example, Gene finds himself unable to respond when Finny says Gene is his "best pal." A deep-seated sense of envy and rivalry prevents him from reciprocating Finny's pure feelings of friendship. Gene's jealousy of Finny only wanes after Finny's injury destroys the traits about Finny that Gene most envied.
The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Jealousy appears in each chapter of A Separate Peace. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Below you will find the important quotes in A Separate Peace related to the theme of Jealousy.
Chapter 4 Quotes
"I found a single sustaining thought. The thought was, You and Phineas are even already. You are even in enmity. You are both coldly driving ahead for yourselves alone....I felt better. We were even after all, even in enmity. The deadly rivalry was on both sides after all."
"He had never been jealous of me for a second. Now I knew that there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us. I was not of the same quality as he."
"Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud. It was the first clumsy physical action I had ever seen him make. With unthinking sureness I moved out on the limb and jumped into the river, every trace of my fear of this forgotten."
Chapter 6 Quotes
"'Listen, pal, if I can't play sports, you're going to play them for me,' and I lost part of myself to him then, and a soaring sense of freedom revealed that this must have been my purpose from the first: to become a part of Phineas.
Chapter 13 Quotes
"I never killed anybody and I never developed an intense level of hatred for the enemy. Because my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there. Only Phineas never was afraid, only Phineas never hated anyone."