Inner Evil


Inner Evil Essay, Research Paper

We all have a darkness inside of us that is unleashed at different times in our lives. It can come out when we are jealous, angry, or just harassing someone. In the novel, A Separate Peace by Robert Knowles, Gene, the main character, is affected by a few evils inside a person and he also releases his own evil. Three characters from the novel, Quackenbush, Brinker, and Gene, all have darkness inside of them that they let come out in different ways.

The first character from A Separate Peace that lets his evil out is Quackenbush. Quackenbush is the head of the crew team at Devon School. He is always teased and harassed by the other students and consequently, Quackenbush has low self-esteem. He feels that by making fun of Gene, unleashing his inner darkness, that it will make him feel better. For the time being it makes him feel big and important. The first incident is when Gene starts as the Assistant Crew Manager and Quackenbush is above him. ???Get some towels???How many????As many as you can carry. That won?t be too many.??? (69). Quackenbush hurts Gene another time too. After making fun of Gene, Gene remarks, ??You, Quackenbush, don?t know anything about who I am?Listen you maimed son-of-a-bitch??(71). Then a fistfight breaks out between the two. Quackenbush doesn?t like when Gene stands up for himself, he cannot stand it. He wants to hurt Gene because he can tell by taking the position of Assistant Crew Manager that Gene has low self-esteem. Quackenbush lets out his inner darkness at Gene because he wants to feel momentous; he wants to feel important and that is one way that someone in this novel lets out their inner depravity.

The second character I have chosen is Brinker. Brinker, who is the popular politician at Devon School, is very jealous of the friendship that Gene and Finny share. He says many things about the fall and how it happened to hurt Gene. ???I?ll bet you knew all the time Finny wouldn?t be back this fall. That?s why you picked him as a roommate, right?? [Brinker asks.]?What? No, of course not. How could I know a thing like that in advance????You fixed it. You knew all the time, I bet it was all your doing.??? (79-80). Brinker was jealous of not only Gene and Finny?s friendship, but also Gene having a room all to himself. Another example is down in the Butt Room, Brinker accuses Gene, once again, of purposely hurting Finny. ???Doing away with his roommate so he could have a whole room to himself? [said Brinker]??God damn it! Shut up! I swear to God you ride a joke longer than anybody I know???So you killed him did you?? a boy uncoiled tensely from the couch??Well, not actually killed. Finny is hanging between life and death at home, in the arms of his grief-stricken mother?…? (81). At the end of the novel, Brinker?s jealousy is rekindled when Finny comes back and their friendship is better than ever. Brinker holds a trial in which they accuse Gene of purposely pushing Finny out of the tree. In this novel Brinker?s jealousy allows his adversity to disclose.

Gene, the main character of this novel, is the third person who liberates his inner darkness. Gene has the most darkness out of the all the characters I have discoursed about. He thought Finny was trying to ruin him, by distracting him from his studies, to participate in jumping out of the tree every night during the Summer Session. ?Finny had deliberately set out to wreck my studies. That explained blitzball… the nightly meetings of the Super Suicide Society?the insistence that I share all his diversions?? (45). Also he feels that there is this rivalry between the two. He thinks that Finny is jealous of him being smart, but actually it doesn?t exist. ??What if [valedictorian] was my goal? After all, he should talk. He had won and been proud to win the Galbraith Football Trophy and the Contact Sport Award?If I was head of the class on Graduation Day and made a speech?then we would both come out on top, we would be even, that was all?? (43). Here is another example:??The thought was, You and Phineas are even already?You did hate him for breaking that school swimming record, but so what? He hated you for getting an A in every course but one last year. You would have had an A in that one except for him?? (45). Finally, at his worst, Gene unleashes his darkness causing Finny to fall from the tree. His jealousy and anger builds up inside of him until he can no longer hold it in. ??Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone?fell through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening thud?With unthinking sureness I moved out on the limb and jumped into the river, every trace of my fear of this forgotten??(52). When Finny falls, Gene makes a spiritual fall. He falls from grace to evil; from thinking evil thoughts, to actually doing them. In this novel, Gene?s vice is triggered when he becomes jealous of Finny, for Finny is almost perfect, so he makes up all these lies to convince himself that Finny is wrong.

Throughout the novel, these three characters let their inner darkness out many times, for many different reasons. Quackenbush hurts Gene to make himself feel good, Brinker hurts Gene because of his jealousy for the things he has, and Gene hurts Finny because of his rivalry and jealousy of Finny. Everyone has darkness inside of them; the difference is whether or not we decide to ?act? upon these impulses.

BibliographyKnowles, Robert. A Separate Peace. New York City; Bantam Books, 1960

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