Tough challenges reveal our strengths and weaknesses. This statement is certainly true; adversity helps discover who we are. Hardships often lead us to examine who we are and question what is important in life. The hardships that we endure are the suffering we must go through. This is how character builds. It is often said that without any challenges or obstacles, a person's true character cannot be determined. Clearly, "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles, and "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan demonstrate this point.
"A Separate Peace" takes place during wartime. No one dies in this book and no tragedies take place. Knowles focuses on the war within a human heart, a war that is affected by the events of World War II but exists independently of any real armed conflict. For Gene, every human being goes to war at a certain point in life; war meaning fighting within himself, within the mind of a human being.
For most of Gene's classmates, WWII provides the catalyst of this loss, and each character reacts in it in his own way. Gene himself, though, states that he fought his own war while at Devon and killed his enemy there. The implication is that Finny was his enemy, casting an unwavering shadow over Gene's life. Gene suffers a guilt that was held within him every time he encountered Finny. He feels responsible for pushing Finny off the tree. During this time, he is constantly fighting himself. He looks in Finny to find himself. His own identity is revealed within Finny's character and because of that, Gene builds his own character. He learns to accept the truth but is afraid to. This suffering leads to his building of character which is a distinctive feature of Gene.