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A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace

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Published by chewie14
Short essay talking about the design and structure for "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles.
Short essay talking about the design and structure for "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: chewie14 on Feb 16, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 A Separate Peace:
Design and Structure
John Knowles successfully constructed the design for A Separate Peace. The novel is well-structured and incredibly easy to follow. John Knowles paved a path for the audience – one that wasimpossible to stray from. A Separate Peace has everything organized and laid out in a very simple, butelegant, format. The novel progresses wonderfully, and transitions from one scene to another are alwaysclean and smooth. The novel focuses on a group of teenage boys growing up in a very rough period of warfare. The ongoing war greatly influences the story, although the war does not affect them directly. The boys will be drafted into the war soon enough, and it will become a part of them forever. However, thenovel emphasizes that these boys are still kids, no matter how the war treats them. A Separate Peacemodels the development of these kids into men, and shows how the war comes to rob them of their childhood and innocence.The novel can be divided into five sections – events, conflict, another series of events, climax,and resolution. The first set of events in this novel start out as a mature Gene Forrester goes to visit hishigh school 15 years later. After seeing two critical places, the novel thrusts us into a long flashback,constituting most of the novel. It is the summer of 1942, and a small fraction of Devon stays for the veryfirst summer session. Only two major characters are stressed, Gene and Phineas, although there areseveral other key characters. Although Gene and Finny are best friends, there is a deep conflict of emotions between the two, which is introduced as the novel progresses. Finny is the star of Devon – athletic, talented, funny, charming, and handsome. Everywhere Finny goes, he is always with a group of other guys. In other words, Finny is the star player of the novel. This first part of A Separate Peacedescribes the boys acting like boys – simply just kids. Some examples include the assemblage of theSuper Suicide Society, which is a club where the members practice jumping out from a tree. Phineas andGene are the leaders of this club, and demonstrate this by leaping from the tree every night. Another childish activity they engage is blitzball, a game designed by Finny where every man is for himself, andthere are no allies. They also do a bit of gambling and other mischievous activities. Gene and Finny alsoskip school to go to the beach, and even spend the entire night there. This portion of the book introducesus to the innocence and purity of these kids, which is modeled by their livelihood and playfulness.The second part of the book introduces us to a conflict. Despite being best friends, Gene developsa sort of resentment or envy toward Finny, and convinces himself that Finny is trying to hold him back. Itis Gene’s own mind that acts as the antagonist in this novel, and this one flaw in his character shapes therest of the book. While attending a Super Suicide meeting, Finny suggests a double jump. Reluctantlyagreeing, Gene climbs along with Finny into the tree. Suddenly, envy overtakes Gene and an evil urgecauses Gene to jounce the limb. Gene decides that he will no longer stand in the shadow of his bestfriend. Watching Finny fall to the ground, Gene cannot help but feel a bit happy that he will now be
equals with Finny. After finding out that Finny’s leg is broken and that he can never play sports again,Gene realizes his grave mistake, but it is too late. By jouncing the limb, Gene knocked over the dominoesthat make up the remainder of the novel. Another series of events are introduced, as the Winter Session begins. As the year transitions from summer to winter, the atmosphere and mood also change from cheeryand carefree to dark and gloomy. The kids have changed, and they are not in their playful mood as theywere just months before. The war is on all of their minds, particularly Brinker and Gene’s. After shoveling snow for a troop train, Brinker and Gene decided to enlist. However, Finny finally returns and both boys end up staying. However, Finny remains unchanged as if nothing had happened. He is the onlyone that shows no change in behavior, and continues his childish parades, living in innocence and purity – oblivious to the rest of the world, dwelling in a “separate peace” as the title suggests.The second series of events include the Winter Carnival, snowball fighting, and practicing for the1944 Olympics, which Finny believes will still take place. The boys resort to this as their only way tomaintain their happiness and childhood, although they all know that the war will come and take fromthem everything. They seek comfort in these activities, despite knowing that it will all end soon enough.Only Finny remains completely optimistic and oblivious to the war. However, this changes when Leper comes back from the war. It is clear to everyone, Finny included, that the war took Leper. They will never see the same kid ever again. After these events, the climax of the novel approaches. Brinker is out tosettle Finny’s case once and for all, and organizes a trial to see how the war lost a potential soldier. Thisscene is intense and serious, and in the end, everything changes. Finny realizes that his best friend had been the cause for his pain, and he storms out of the room. Every story needs a resolution, and so it justhappens that Finny clumsily falls down the marble stairs, and breaks his leg. However, during the surgery,Finny’s own bone marrow enters his bloodstream, and he dies, just after Gene confronts him andapologizes. It is ironic since Finny was the most unaffected by the war, yet he had been the one who hadsuffered the most. Finny was the one whom the war took from the most.A Separate Peace is a deep novel which models the growth and development of teenage boys in a period of wartime. The war came to claim the boys’ innocence and childhood. They were no longer boys, playing and goofing around. No more games, no more jumping from trees, no more skipping school – everything and everyone was changed. However, only one character was strong enough to stand upagainst the all-powerful hand of change. Finny was the only one who showed little change throughout the book, and it was sad how he was the one who paid the greatest price. It becomes evident why matureGene visited his school for two places: the tree and marble stairs. Although it initially made no sense, thenovel formed the connections in the end. The conclusion of the book involves Gene reflecting on himself and the other kids, Finny included. He mentions how Finny was the only pure-hearted one. Finny was thetrue hero and Gene’s earlier narrow-mindedness caused his best friend to suffer. It is especially tragic thatFinny’s best friend killed him – indirectly as it was, Gene still killed Finny. You just can’t help but

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