Separate Peace Theme

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Essay on A Separate Peace A Separate Peace by John Knowles tells the story of protagonist Gene Forrester and his life at Devon School. The story takes place during World War II, around 1942 in the setting of New Hampshire. Devon School grants Gene as well as the other boys attending a privilege, being they were excluded from the war going on around them. Regardless of whether or not the boys had actually experienced or been involved with the war, it did not stop it from effecting their everyday lives. Gene is challenged by a few things during his year in Devon. Most importantly, the impact the war leaves on his life, as well as his relationship with his best friend, Finny. Although two very different things, both end up greatly affecting…show more content…
At first, Gene doesn 't really think the war is that serious, and throws the idea of enlisting around lightly. This is because at Devon, the boys are privileged to be excluded from the truth of the war and its negative effects. This changes when someone dear to Gene, Leper, experiences the army. Leper is ruined after his experience in the war, and is traumatized forever by what he has seen. Gene begins to understand just how harmful the war is, and the worst part is him as well as the rest of the boys are constantly reminded of their possibility to be drafted into the army.“The class above, seniors, draft-bait, practically soldiers, rushed ahead of us toward the war. They were caught up in accelerated courses and first-aid programs and a physical hardening regimen...(4).” For Gene to have to see those around him go into ruins from the war leaves a negative impact on him and his mentality, destructing his innocence. Gene knew that he could very easily be drafted at any moment. Ultimately, this awareness led to a tarnishing of Gene’s innocence as well as his youth, for he registered the reality of war and understood he would have to come face to face with it very…show more content…
Considering Gene is the cause of Finny’s severe injury, the guilt begins to completely occupy his life. Gene understands that he had not only caused harm to Finny when he pushed him off the tree, but he had taken away his opportunity to live his life to its fullest as Finny 's life revolved around sports. When Finny asks him if Gene could show him how the incident happens, Gene reaches his breaking point and shouts “No, I don’t know how to show you, how can I show you, Finny? Tell me how to show you. It was just some ignorance inside me, some crazy thing inside me, something blind, that’s all it was!”(104). Gene understood he was in the wrong, for there was no justification for his actions other than the negative side of his nature had taken over him. In addition to Gene’s guilt, Finny’s injury actually led to his death. Gene says, “I did not cry then or ever about Finny. I did not cry even when I stood watching him being lowered into his family’s strait-laced burial ground outside of Boston. I could not escape a feeling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case.” Gene was no longer living his life in peace or comfort, knowing he was ultimately the cause for his friends passing. Even if Gene had not intended for Finny to die, no innocent person would cause such harm to a loved one knowing the effects it may
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