Biblical Allusion Essay

This essay has a total of 1806 words and 9 pages.

Biblical Allusion

"All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."(Romans 3:23)

The fall of man- it's a common topic all throughout the Bible. Many allusions to this
familiar Biblical theme are made in the war-time novel, A Separate Peace, by American
author John Knowles. In this work, Knowles relates many of his experiences as a teenage
boy attending boarding school during World War Two. He uses Biblical allusions to reveal
much about human nature.

In Genesis 4:3-5 the Bible says, "In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of
the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Able brought fat portions from some of the
firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain
and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was

Much like Cain's jealousy toward his brother Abel in Genesis, the protagonist Gene is
often placing himself in competition with his best friend and worst enemy, Phineas.
Phineas, affectionately known as Finny is much like Able. He is innocent and pure in his
views on life and others. Knowles says he ",Did abide by certain rules which he seemed to
cast in the form of Commandments. (Pg 26)"

Able was honest and wise by choosing to follow God's orders. Thus, God was pleased with
Able's offering. Cain, on the other hand was quite the opposite. He is presented as being
rather depraved and corrupted. In this way, Gene is similar to Cain. In the book Gene
realizes the grip that sin has on his soul and claims, "It was just some ignorance inside
me, some crazy thing inside me, something blind, that's all it was. (Pg 183) "

Unfortunately, Gene, like Cain, becomes consumed with jealousy of Phineas, due to the
realization that he can never be as good as Finny— morally or athletically. The reader
sees this when Gene states that, "there never was and never could have been any rivalry
between us. I was not of the same quality as he."

The pain of this knowledge cause Gene to be irrational. He allows envy and resentment to
build within him. In one moment, he allows his subconscious to pilot his body and doing so
makes the regret of his lifetime. Here, he relates this horrible sin: "Holding firmly to
the trunk, I took a step forward 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 thud.
(Pg 52)"

The story of Cain and Able goes much the same way. "Now Cain said to his brother Able,
‘Let's go out to the field.' And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother
Able and killed him (Genesis 4:8)"

These parallel incidents reveal much about human nature. When Gene is faced with the truth
that he will never measure up to Phineas, his subconscious takes hold of him and he
destroys the better man because he cannot cope with Finny's unmatchable perfection. This
act promulgates the truth concerning man's will to survive.

The fall of Adam and Eve is also quite concurrent with Gene's fall in A Separate Peace. In
Genesis, the Bible relates the story of Adam and Eve and their life in the garden of Eden.
Eden was a beautiful place in which there was no sin or suffering and every need was met.
God's only stipulation was that the pair abstain form eating the fruit of a certain tree.
Yet it seems, even this was too much to ask. Genesis 3:6 says: "When the woman saw the
fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for
gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with
her, and he also ate it."

Yet, Adam and Eve's sin was not without consequence. The Bible tells us that, "Then the
eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked; So they sewed
fig-leaves together and made coverings for themselves."

Gene's sin had comparable results. After he shook Finny from the tree, his life changes
dramatically. Gene is "..confronted with himself and what [he] had done to Finny (pg 54)."
The impact of his transgressions hit him hard and he grows very ashamed. Due to this
shame, he attempts to conceal his iniquities, just as Adam and Eve hid their nakedness. He
demonstrates this by the lie told in the following passage: " ‘Were you- near the tree?'

Finny turned toward me. ‘You were down at the bottom weren't you?' he asked, not in the
official courtroom tone he had used before, but in friend's voice.

I had been studying very carefully the way my hands wrinkled when tightly clenched, but I
was able to bring my head up and return his inquiring look. ‘Down at the bottom, yes.'
(pg 162)"

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