In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, the friendship between Gene and Finny is continuously growing. At the Devon School for boys, the two are having a summer packed with enjoyment and adventures. This novel is narrated by Gene, and although he considers Finny as his best friend, there is a prominent feeling of jealousy that Gene feels towards him. In Gene’s eyes, Finny is perfect. He’s the quintessential example of what Gene aspires to be. Finny is confident, athletic, social, and kind, which I believe subsequently affects Gene’s self-worth. When Finny opened up to him, and told Gene that he was his best pal, I feel that his self-worth was slightly restored. Finny expressed a raw emotion, without prompting, which could have boosted Gene’s confidence. Perhaps this following passage is an attempt to maintain that emotional strength, or perhaps it’s something deeper.
Exposing a sincere emotion nakedly like that at the Devon School was the next thing to suicide. I should have told him then that he was my best friend also and rounded off what he had said. I started to; I nearly did. But something held me back. Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth. (p. 44)
This hesitance surrounding the expression of his emotions is quite a natural response, that I’m sure everyone can relate to. However, this makes me wonder, why are we so scared of sharing our emotions? Is it the pride of knowing that we have the power to control how the situation plays out? Is it the fear of rejection, or the fear of knowing that there’s a very real possibility of getting hurt? Or, is it simply as Gene said, a feeling that we as humans can’t quite grasp in a conceptual way. In this scenario, Gene isn’t facing rejection, since Finny has already admitted that Gene is his best friend. Nevertheless, there is still something holding him back from saying it aloud. Which for now, may just have to remain inexplainable.