A Separate Peace, By John Knowles

1193 words - 5 pages

Perhaps the most interesting front in any war or any battle is the home front.A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, explores how a war affects life at home, and how war affects the teenagers who are preparing to enter it. Set over the course of a year at Devon School-- a New England preparatory academy high in prestige-- the book seeks to show that the lives most affected by a war may not be the soldiers, but the citizens of a country who might become soldiers.The book describes the life of a number of students at Devon. Beginning with the Summer Quarter previous to their senior year, A Separate Peace specifically follows the lives of two roommates: Gene and Phineas. On the surface, Gene is the quiet scholar: an introvert who would like to do his school work and live in peace. Finny is the boisterous athlete: energetic, young, and free spirited. But what they end up learning from each other surpasses these stock characterizations.Gene lives with Finny, but it is almost as if he?s watching him with a telescope from Mars. He lives on the outside of Finny?s world-- fascinated by the things contained within it. During his time at Devon, Gene lived in fear, as he describes early in the book on page two. Gene was envious of Finny as shown on page eighteen when he realizes that Finny can get away with anything.It is this envy that leads Gene?s paranoia of Finny. I think that Gene had never had a friend as close as Finny-- never knew a person who was so willing to aid him. Because of this he became a suspicious and jealous ?friend? that conspired against the person who was farthest from being his enemy. Over the course of the book, Gene learns the error of his suspicious ways, and his life is changed by the outcome of his suspicion.As described by Gene on page seventeen, Finny was ?the essence of...peace? . Finny was the most influential and effective leader of his class: able to persuade a person into doing anything. He was outgoing, caring, and sincere, in the world of Devon, where ambition, cruelty, and greed were the keys to success. As a person Finny had no equal, and he was so caring he became misunderstood and abused. I think that Finny is the epitome of friendship, he was the real deal in a world of phonies. Because this world was so perverse and so harsh, no one could see how truly wonderful he was.One very important aspect of Gene changes years after the story takes place, on his return to Devon that begins early in the book. In the opening scene, Gene returns to Devon to walk around, perhaps to find closure or insight into the matters of his childhood. When he comes to a tree, the one physical object that changed his entire life, he sees it ?weary from age, enfeebled dry.? From this he learns that ?nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not even death by violence.? This scene gave me important foresight to the events in the book.Another important scene is the waking of Gene on the beach, in the beginning of chapter 4. To me this scene has even...

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