Copied From Sparknotes - Gene And Finny

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Early on in the novel, Gene's relationship to Finny seems to be defined by simple envy. Finny is athletic and quick-tongued, with a powerful and assertive spirit; Gene feels overshadowed and even controlled by his friend. After Finny's fall, however, Gene seems to be purged of his animosity and resentment, and he begins to blur the line between himself and his friend. Just before knocking Finny out of the tree, he seems to realize that Finny is his moral superior. Over the course of the rest of the novel, he tries to escape his own, pettier self by losing himself in Finny. The post-accident scene, in which Gene rather bizarrely dresses in his friend's clothes and, looking in the mirror, finds contentment in the notion that he looks exactly like Finny, symbolizes this attempted merging of identities. In allowing Finny to train him to be the athlete that Finny himself can no longer be, Gene seems to be letting Finny live through him.

Yet, just as Finny lives through Gene, Gene lives through Finny by letting Finny's identity overwhelm his own. Thus, the two exist in a codependent state, each needing the other. Soon they share the same dreams and illusions: that the Olympics will proceed in 1944 as usual and that the war is merely a conspiracy; they thus live amid a "separate peace." The more time goes by and the more the war encroaches upon Devon, the more the boys depend upon each other to maintain this fantasy. Ultimately, then, while this codependency allows the boys to remain content and feel secure, it hampers their entrance into the reality of adulthood. So, too, does it limit their development as individuals in touch with their own individual identities. This codependency may be unhealthy, even destructive, as...