A Separate Peace Symbolism Essay

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The book A Separate Peace by John Knowles is filled with a lot of symbolism relating to war. Much of the story takes place in Devon where the boys go to school, but there is also a huge event happening outside the boys’ environment, which is the war. Although war is not the main setting of the story it still has a lot of connection with the themes of the book. The symbol of war is related to the themes youth to adult transition and friendship accompanied by jealousy.

The author develops the theme of a youth to an adult transition of the characters by using the symbol of war. The symbol relates to the theme because at the beginning of the novel, in the summer season, the boys were having fun playing blitzball, going to the beach, jumping
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The war happening outside Devon represents the external and internal conflicts between the characters. An example is Gene’s inner conflict with jealousy when he says, “I was beginning to see that Phineas could get away with anything. I couldn't help envying him that a little, which was perfectly normal. There was no harm in envying even your best friend a little” (Knowles 25). Here, Gene is trying to justify his envy towards Finny, which could represent the justification of calamities in war. Another example is Gene wishing bad for Finny, “This time he wasn't going to get away with it. I could feel myself becoming unexpectedly excited at that” (Knowles 27). Gene’s response to Finny getting in trouble could represent war mentality because Gene is wishing bad for Finny. The author is using the story of friendship with jealousy to tell the story of war as in how some sides look for conflicts like Gene and the others stay away from it like Finny.

The symbol of war gave meaning to the themes, growing from youth to adulthood, and friendship with jealousy, in the novel, A Separate Peace. The author used the war symbol to show the difference between youth and adulthood. He also used it to show the relationship between war and friendship. In conclusion, the symbolism of war is a very important symbol in A Separate Peace as it allows the reader to interpret the meanings of maturing from
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