A person often gains new insight as a result of a specific incident that he or she experiences. This point is clearly demonstrated in the novel A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Gene learns the profound meaning of friendship when he pushes Phineas out of the tree. When he learns that Phineas has this unconditional love for him, he becomes very guilty for what he has done. The author foreshadows many events from the beginning of the book.
When Gene pushes Phineas out of the tree in a burst of jealous rage, he gains this profound meaning of friendship. Even after the incident, Phineas doesn’t blame Gene for pushing him out of the tree. Instead, Phineas chooses to believe that a gust of wind had jostled the branch causing his fall. This is the story that he tells people and he believes himself. When other students get suspicious of what really happened, they hold a mock trial in attempts to find the truth. Phineas continues to lie for his friend and conjures an elaborate story to clear Gene’s name. This evidently shows that Phineas would much rather lie to others and to himself, to protect the good name of Gene.
When Gene sees that Phineas would much rather lie for him, than to believe it himself, he becomes extremely guilty for his actions. A moment, which occurred during those few seconds, has now caused him to see the pain he has inflicted on Phineas and how much Phineas really cares for him. This guilt continues to come out during novel until Phineas’ foreshadowed death. Gene’s guilt is extremely evident when Phineas breaks his leg a second time. As he sits in the infirmary with Phineas, all he could say was sorry. There was nothing more that he could do. From the beginning of the novel, we learn of a death and not until the final chapters of the book do we learn that this death is Phineas’. The guilt that Gene has, plateaus as Phineas is lowered into the ground. Gene has learned an extremely important lesson and the results are irreversible.
Gene’s newfound insight in A Separate Peace is clearly the friendship between Phineas and himself. Gene does not see this bond until the single point where he Phineas is pushed from the tree. The guilt for his envious actions will stay with him forever. The insight is definitely gained and the price is his best friend’s life.