24 September 2018
Breaking Away vs. A Separate Peace: A Comparison of Identity
Identity is ultimately what defines an individual as unique. Everyone behaves differently and has their own talents and ambitions. People may have some characteristics in common with one another, but no two people are the same; identity is like a fingerprint, unique. This idea of identity, and moreover, an identity crisis translates over to literature. Both Dave from Breaking Away and Gene from A Separate Peace face an identity crisis. Both characters attempt to become what they idolize, in the case of Dave, he desires to be Italian, and in the process creates an alias for himself, Enrico Gismondi. However, in the case of Gene, he desires to become like Finny, his best friend, and reach his level of athleticism.
Dave’s desire to be Italian can be seen through his father disapproval of “Ity” culture and how his father reminisces on how Dave used to be a smart, normal boy. Dave seeks to be Italian, displaying obsessive behavior over the Italian cycling team. This obsession set forth by Dave causes him to become disillusioned, convincing himself that he’s Italian and losing his actual identity in the process. This is seen in how he tries to break away from his family and his group of friends, the “cutters”, in order to fulfill his dream of an Italian transfer student. This fantasy and fake identity he has eventually breaks down though when the Italian team that he worships so much cheats their way to victory at his expense. This fact comes as a shock to Dave and his identity, causing him to rip down all his cycling posters and transition back to American Dave. Dave becomes distraught, and with no...