Summary Of A Separate Peace By John Knowles

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There are, and always will be, characters in literature that constantly conform, and just want to fit in. These characters, however, are not typically the narrator, such as is true in A Separate Peace by John Knowles. The narrator, Gene, constantly changes tone throughout the novel. These changes in tone are erratic, and are seemingly random. When it’s closely examined, it becomes increasingly clear that Gene clings to and mirrors the tone of the strongest leader available. In A Separate Peace, this is Finny. Finny is sometimes absent throughout the novel, so when Finny isn’t available, Gene’s tone shifts to a tone almost opposite to Finny’s, that of Brinker’s. Finny’s tone and personality as a whole is very vibrant, upbeat, and spontaneous. …show more content…

Gene’s constantly changing tone is a direct result of his desire to mirror the tone of the most capable leader available, which is always that of either Finny or Brinker. First of all, the peer who offers the most leadership is Finny. Gene has a desire to become Finny, so he tries to emulate everything he does: he attempts to emulate his actions, his recklessness, and even his tone. While Gene by no means immaculately mimics Finny’s tone, it becomes very clear that it is his intent to try to become Finny in every way, shape, and form. Gene outright states this, saying, “I lost part of myself to him then, and a soaring sense of freedom revealed that this must have been my purpose from the first: to become a part of Phineas” (Knowles 85). This shows how Gene feels he must act and feel as Phineas does. In this quotation, Gene is realizing his previously subconscious desire to become a part of Phineas. It is a relief to him that he has …show more content…

Right before Gene starts the Winter session, he visits Finny, who will be absent for its start. When Finny sarcastically inquires whether or not Gene will be following the rules, Gene says, “‘Oh no, I wouldn’t do that,’ and that was the most false thing, the biggest lie of all” (Knowles 71). This illustrates how Gene has transitioned from a tone that attempted to be reckless and careless, to a more responsible and studious one. One of the most clear pieces of evidence to suggest that Gene tries to mirror the tone of the peer with the best leadership is how different Brinker’s and Finny’s tones are. For the majority of the novel, Brinker is studious and responsible. Gene constantly switches between these two tones. For example, Brinker says that he’s going to enlist. Gene is fascinated by the proposition, and it seems like he’s decided to enlist as well. “I owed it to myself to meet this crisis [the war] in my life when I chose, and I chose now” (Knowles 102). On the same page, Finny returns to Devon, and Gene immediately adapts his carefree and jovial tone. “Everything throughout the say faded like the first false snowfall of the winter. Phineas was back” (Knowles 102). Shortly after, when confronted about the idea of enlisting with Finny, he completely denies the fact that he was legitimately considering the decision. “Brinker’s always getting there first. Enlist! What a

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