Adulthood In John Knowles A Separate Peace

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Adulthood: for many not part of it, it is seen as a scary, foreign world. The moment one leaves the safety of childhood to become an adult varies between people and cultures. For Gene Forrester, the protagonist in the coming-of-age novel A Separate Peace by John Knowles, adulthood begins with the fall of his friend, Phineas. Set at New Hampshire’s Devon Prep School during the years of 1942-1943, A Separate Peace follows Gene and Phineas until they reach maturity. The moment that Phineas falls from the tree symbolizes when Gene falls from innocence. Gene’s loss of innocence is demonstrated by his intent to hurt Phineas, the change from summer to winter, and the Devon students’ involvement in World War II. Finny’s fall is symbolic of a fall from innocence. To start, Gene’s belief that Finny was trying to sabotage his education evokes doubt about their friendship. In order to outdo Finny, Gene “…took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head to look at me…and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud” (Knowles 60). At that point, Gene discovers the reality of hatred and envy between people, as he is responsible for Finny’s fall and injury. The event of Gene deliberately hurting Finny shows that Gene feels some level of resentment, a sure sign of adulthood. Furthermore, the day…show more content…
The lack of innocence is indicated throughout A Separate Peace, by Gene’s involvement in adult ways. Most vividly, it is shown by Gene’s intentional choices to hurt Finny, the beginning of the Winter Session, and the Devon men’s engagement in World War II. For Gene, innocence was lost quickly. However, for others, innocence can be held onto for a long time, disappearing much more gradually. In the end, innocence cannot be held onto forever. Adulthood may be unfamiliar seas, but the only way to change that is to jump
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