Gene Forrester

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by Jillian120
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Gene Forrester

"I said a lot of things sarcastically that summer; that was my sarcastic summer, 1942." (15)... "It was only long after that I recognized sarcasm as the protest of people who are weak."(29)This observation that Gene makes verifies that he is an introvert. Introverts are typically very self-aware and are able to recognize specific qualities about themselves with ease. Gene, fifteen years later is able to recognize that he was a mentally and emotionally weak teen at Devon. This moment of recognition is a pivotal element in Gene's coming of age.

The Loss of Innocence is Inevitable

"The loss of innocence is inevitable" as the character of Gene has proven in the novel written by John Knowles. When Gene decides to jounce the limb resulting in Finny losing his balance, he is submitting to the evil in his heart. Although he claims that Finny's own was "a den of lonely, selfish ambition"(56), it is evident that the true evil lies within Gene. In the words of William Golding, "maybe there is a beast, maybe it's only us", this novel encourages self-awareness about the inherently evil nature of man that ought to lie within us all. In addition to that, Gene's submission to evil is similar to that of Adam and Eve's in the Garden of Eden. They gave into the temptation by taking that first bite into the apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Gene took his first bite into the same apple when he decided to intentionally cause harm to Finny. This event ultimately eradicates Gene of his innocence. He must now suffer the consequences and the repercussions of his actions much like Adam and Eve did. It is predestined for humans to suffer the loss of innocence, just as it has in the novel.

By: Jillian Lopes

"Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud. It was the first clumsy physical action I had ever seen him make. With unthinking sureness I moved out on the limb and jumped into the river, every trace of my fear of this forgotten." (59-60)This passage is very significant as the event of Finny falling from the tree is one of the two major divisions of the novel. This action of Gene's represents the detrimental bite of the apple of the Tree of Knowledge; the submission to evil. At this time, he is also pleased to see that finally Finny makes a "clumsy" action; accentuating one of his few flaws. After the event occurs, Gene almost finds a sense of relief and is more comfortable jumping into the river. This decision to jounce the limb and inflict harm on Finny establishes Gene to be a jealous, selfish, and inherently evil individual.

The tree in the novel is symbolic of Gene in many ways. First, the tree represents Gene's growth throughout the novel. This proves him to be a dynamic character as he reflects on how he has grown and developed since his time spent at Devon when he revisits it after fifteen years. His growth also allowed him to recognize the evil inside of himself, and presumably inside of others as well. This inherent evil is another aspect associated with the symbolic tree and the character of Gene.

"I was more and more certainly becoming the best student in the school; Phineas was without question the best athlete, so in that way we were even. But while he was a very poor student I was a pretty good athlete, and when everything was thrown into the scales they would in the end tilt definitely toward me."(55)Gene's constant comparing of himself to Finny demonstrates his competitive, obsessive, envious nature. On numerous occasions throughout the novel, Gene emphasizes his efforts and attempts to even the scales with Finny and it is unfortunate to see just how much of Gene's efforts are spent trying to be more superior; craving to be the better of the two. Gene is never satisfied with his own abilities and always wants to possess more of the qualities Finny has that he may be lacking (athleticism). This can be interpreted as a compliment to Finny, although it ends up serving as an addition to a negative quality of Gene's-jealousy.


Gene Forrester


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