Conflict in A Separate Peace - Ms. White's Website

The Mayflower and the Pilgrims' New World

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A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Conflict in a Separate Peace

Conflict can be said to be a disagreement which is brought about by a threat (real or perceived) to the interests or needs of an individual or group of individuals. When conflict is between several parties, it is referred to as external conflict. However, when the same occurs within an individual, it is referred to as internal conflict. In this text, I take into consideration the conflicts (both external and internal) that were faced by Leper, Brinker and Finny in the novel, 'A Separate Peace.' I also look at how each of the three characters resolved the conflict.

Conflicts Faced by Finny

Finny's internal conflict is well brought out in the novel. Though he is talented when it comes to athletics, Finny is apprehensive of Gene's academic performance. An academic genius, Gene in one instance complains to Finny about his dismal grade in a certain mathematics test. In a move that betrays an internal conflict within him in terms of his apprehensiveness towards Gene's stellar performance in the past, Finny becomes critical of Gene's resolve to be at the top of the class. The novel also brings out Finny's external conflict in the way he reacts when Gene tells him he was responsible for the accident that lead to the shattering of his leg. The external conflict here is identifiable in the way Finny shouts at Gene when the fact that Gene actually informed his misfortune sinks home. Finny resolves his conflicts through acceptance of things as they are.

Conflicts Faced by Brinker

In the novel, Brinker's internal conflict at some point is founded on the growing popularity of Finny. Brinker seems convinced that the enhanced popularity of Finny will overshadow him and eventually cause him to lose some of the influence he has accumulated. Further, it can be noted that Brinker's suspicion of there having been foul play during Finny's accident is another instance of internal conflict…

An example of internal conflict in A Separate Peace is with Gene, the main character. He struggles with himself and his insecurities. We see this when he compares himself with Finny physically and academically.

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  • conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion.

    The main conflict in A Separate Peace is only resolved after Finny's death when Gene realizes that he is his own enemy and accepts that a person cannot measure oneself by the abilities of another person.