Throughout life people are faced with many tough situations. Gene, from John KnowlesA Separate Peace, and Malcolm from The Autobiography of Malcolm X, were both faced with some very difficult situations throughout their lives. Malcolm was a black man growing up in the times of segregation and hatred towards blacks. Gene was a typical adolescent attending a military boarding school. Though both were faced with problems in life, they both responded very differently to their troubles. Gene seemed more intimidated by problems and chose to run from them, while Malcolm faced his troubles and overcame them.
In the beginning of the story Gene seems to be a very typical boy going to a military boarding school. However, as the story progresses Gene faces some very tough situations. Gene's best friend, Finny, was the best athlete at the school, and Gene was one of the best students. Gene was not very athletic, and this created a bitter jealousy on Gene's part.
Gene was jealous of Finny's talents as an athlete. Throughout the story Gene tries to hide his jealousy from his peers. Gene does a pretty good job of it at first, but one day when they were climbing a tree to jump into the river he loses control of himself. He stomps on the limb that Finny is standing on and Finny falls and breaks his leg. This puts an end to Finny's athletics, and in a sense an end to Finny himself.
Malcolm faces many hardships throughout life also. One situation that he had to face his entire life was that he was black. At the time black people were treated terribly. Many people used racial slurs, such as "nigger". Malcolm learned to accept his being black, and instead of being ashamed he learned to be proud. As Malcolm grew up in the ghetto he relied on hustling for a living. This brought in a problem with an old time hustler but the name of West Indian Archie. Archie believed that Malcolm, or red as he was also called, had conned him out of some money. Malcolm believed he hadn't and saved face by telling that to Archie. Archie told Malcolm that he had one day to get the money. Word got around and everybody knew about their "beef". After the one day ultimatum Archie confronted Malcolm and Malcolm still defended himself. Later on in life Malcolm came to a realization. After believing that white people were devils for a number of years, he decided through observation that white people could help black people in some ways. He admitted this publicly, despite the fact that it created havoc. Everyone knows it can be hard to admit wrongs, so imagine doing it publicly about an already very touchy subject.
Though Malcolm and Gene appear to be very different, they shared a common bond through their hardships in life. Although they shared this bond, they both face their trials very differently. Gene on the first hand is very intimidated by his hardships. For example he chooses to live knowing that he had ruined his best friends life though an act of jealousy. Instead of facing the facts and admitting his mistakes he simply hides from them. On the other hand we have Malcolm. Malcolm faces each one of his problems in life head up. West Indian Archie was one of the most renowned hustlers on the streets. He wouldn't have thought twice about killing Malcolm. Malcolm, even though very scared, didn't get out of town and hide from Archie. Instead he stuck up for himself and faced Archie.
The way that people face their problems is a direct reflection on their personalities. Malcolm was a very proud, and intelligent man. He came from the bottom so he had nothing to lose. Gene was a very pampered boy with much less experience in life. Malcolm stood up for what he believed in, and overcame his fears. Gene let fear overcome him when it came to problems. As a person Malcolm was a much stronger man than Gene. The way they both faced problems is the clearest way to illustrate this.