Gene's Narration (Question 1) As the narrator of John Knowle's A Separate Piece, Gene Forrester is a thirty-one year old man looking back at his school years. His narration is based on his eyes through a flashback of sixteen years over which he has molded and matured into a confident enough man to be able to look back at a time of not such greatness and still learn many things about himself as a teenager.
While reading this novel, I kept in the back of my mind the fact that it is being told by a mature adult who is just reflecting on his confused teenage life. This maturity creates a impact to the narration because, as an adult, Gene is more comfortable with looking back at things he is not too happy about in his life, like being jealous of Finny, and facing it as the truth. His maturity allows the reader to get the whole story without cover-ups to save his pride causing it to seem like Gene is the bad guy.
"I had never pictured myself in a the role of Finny's defender"ÃÂ¦ But I didn't feel exactly as though I had done it for Phineas. It felt as though I had done it for myself,"ÃÂ (Knowles 72). This reflection on his character shows just how much Gene was willing to accept his faults. Instead of acting like a great guy for defending Finny, the mature Gene reflects honestly on his real, selfish intentions and is able to learn more about himself at that time of his life.
Along with giving the book a more mature and honest narration, Gene's flashback serves as a way for Gene to find out about the sixteen-year old boy he used to be. I believe that Gene came back to Devon after so many years not to find out if he had jounced the limb, but rather to find out who he was and why he was that boy. "Looking back now across fifteen years, I could see with great clarity the fear I had lived in, which must mean that in the interval I had succeeded in a very important undertaking: I must have made my escape from it,"ÃÂ (Knowles 2). This quote goes to show that Gene wanted to learn what atmosphere Gene was in during his troubled times. Understanding that he had a great sense of fear all the time when he was a boy at Devon, Gene can better understand why he was the way he was and inevitably what was going through his mind at that time. This understanding that for some reason fear was with him as a teenager at Devon and no longer as a thirty-one visitor, can help Gene to sort out the many questions he had about his shameful acts fifteen years ago and possibly resolve his worries about the tree incident.
The flashback as told by an adult Gene definitely creates an impact to the narration as a whole. Coming back to Devon allows for the narrator to understand his otherwise trying adolescence while keeping the story honest with a more critical and mature view on his life in 1942.