John Knowles A Separate Peace

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Protection from reality creates more harm than safety. John Knowles's novel, A Separate Peace, presents an unconventional dark representation of adolescence through a young boy’s life-altering experience. During World War II, the Devon School in New Hampshire houses many children, including Gene Forrester and Phineas. A Separate Peace displays how war forces children to lose their innocence and divert from the standard ways of growing up. The Devon School protects the children’s adolescence and shelter’s them from the dark realities of the world including war and internal struggle. Even though Devon protects the children from change and the growing fear of the outside world, it causes the children to have a false perception of the real world. …show more content…

The concept of dark adolescence begins with the pivotal moment of the story when Gene intentionally jostles the branch so that Finny falls off. What began as an innocent summer activity during the summer session, turned into turmoil when Gene intentionally knocks Finny off the branch. Even though Gene himself never fully understands what prompted him to jostle the branch, this moment causes Gene’s protection from the outside world to be broken forever. The tree which Finny falls off once represented the innocence of children and the beauty of summer, but after the incident transforms into a catalyst for change. Even though Finny is not originally aware of Gene’s intentional act, it slowly destroys their friendship and causes Gene to lose his own sense of identity. Gene’s jealousy towards Finny and his natural sports ability and carefree demeanor eventually causes Gene to secretly envy Finny and view him as his own enemy. In reality, Gene’s only enemy becomes himself because of his codependency on others to remain protected from the outside world. After Finny’s incident, his injury causes him to try and live vicariously through Gene in order to protect his passions. Finny’s attempt to train Gene in running and encourage him to try out for sports acts as a remedy to distract himself from his own incapabilities. Knowles presents adolescence in an …show more content…

Not only is there a physical war going on during the time, but also Gene’s internal war with himself. Gene becomes so consumed with jealousy toward Finny and his accomplishments that he intentionally hurts his best friend. Even though Finny never puts any pressure or expectations on Gene to become even within their environment, Gene internally struggles to accept his own identity. Gene’s sheltered environment causes him to become codependent on Finny in order to maintain his self-esteem and protect him from the outside world. World War II in the novel breaks the barrier and protection the Devon school provided for the boys. They are no longer safe from their idealized vision of peace and face the harsh reality of the real world. Leper Lepellier, Gene and Finny’s friend, chooses to enlist in the war to provoke change but eventually escapes the military because of its unbearable environment further demonstrating how war destroys a boy’s innocence. Leper also returns to the Devon School after escaping the military in an attempt to try and repossess the protection the Devon School once provided. Although the war occurs outside of Devon, the students neither recognize nor understand the severity of the war itself because of the war’s glorified projection. Mr. Hadley, the father of Brinker, believes the war provides the children with a sense of honor and even finds jealousy in his son’s ability to partake in

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