Finny vs. Millicent - a compare/contrast essay based on characters in John Knowles' A Separate Peace and Sylvia Plath's "Initiation"

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Phineas, a main character in John Knowles' A Separate Peace, and Millicent, a main character in Sylvia Plath's "Initiation," are both alike and different. Though the plotlines and themes of these two stories are quite different, the characters themselves display similar wants and morals. This can be seen through their relative popularity, their desire to join or create an exclusive club, and both characters' realizations that change is constant.

In both A Separate Peace and "Initiation," Finny and Millicent, respectively, seem to be more popular than their best friends, or at least have their envy. In Chapter 2 of A Separate Peace, Gene says that "[He] was beginning to see that Phineas could get away with anything," (p. 19) and was even a little envious of him. This doesn't necessarily show directly that Finny was more popular than Gene, but it does show that his personality facilitated being more popular; therefore, the reader can infer that Finny was, indeed, more popular than Gene.

In "Identity," Millicent's best friend Tracy is "blackballed" from being invited into the sorority because she is "just a bit too different." (p. 262) The girls in the sorority don't accept Tracy because of little things, such as the fact that she wears knee socks. Apparently Millicent has become more confident in herself, while Tracy has not changed quite enough for the sorority to accept her.

Finny and Millicent's interests in social clubs can be considered both a similarity and a difference. They both want to belong to one at one point in time, but Finny initiates the creation of the Super Suicide Society while Millicent eventually rejects the girls' sorority. They both seem to do it for the comradeship involved in such groups: "It would be rather fun for a change... rather exciting...