Symbolism Of Water In A Separate Peace

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Water, although taken for granted, is the lifeline of Earth. All carbon-based life requires some quantity of water to survive. However, in John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, water holds a deeply symbolic meaning all throughout the novel. At the beginning of the story, Gene visits The Devon School, his old boarding school. During the visit, Gene seeks two locations: a marble staircase, as well as a tree. At the tree, Gene is reminded of Phineas, his old friend. While reveling in memories at the tree, Gene makes a subtle note that he is drenched in rain. This moment established water as a symbol in the story. Clean water, dirty water, snow, and bodies of water all encapsulate different parts of Gene’s adolescence. The frequent comparison between …show more content…

The impact is made evident by the fact that Gene subconsciously believes there is a connection between Finny’s carefree, easygoing personality, and water. Early in the story, Finny and Gene were not very fond of one another. At this time, Gene is a very high-strung, rule-abiding student. So, naturally, when Finny asks Gene to go to the beach, it is tough for Gene to accept the offer. Leaving Devon without permission is against the rules, forcing Gene to decide between studying or having fun with Finny. However, Gene accepts the offer, and bikes with Finny to the beach. Once at the beach, Gene says, “He [Finny] was everywhere, he enjoyed himself hugely, he laughed out loud at passing seagulls. And he did everything he could think of for me” (47). Gene’s visit to the beach is the first time he saw Finny in all his glory. This establishes a connection between the beach, which is water, and Finny’s happy-go-lucky personality. On top of that, it was the first time Gene actually broke a rule. As a result, Gene’s experience with Finny creates a subconscious connection between the water and Finny’s charisma. Snow also acts as a symbol of Finny’s character. During the winter session, Gene spends most of his time doing homework and complaining about being bored. Gene says, “Saturday afternoons are terrible in a boys’ school, especially in the winter. There is no football game; it is not possible…” (127). Gene believes that all sports and activities are ruined by the snow, and nothing can be done to cure him of boredom. Finny hears Gene’s disappointment with the winter session, and says, “You know what we’d better do next Saturday? We’d better organize the Winter Carnival” (128). Finny, even in the monotonous, snowy winter session, finds a way to make life better. Finny makes the best of the situation, despite the burden of snow. The jubilant Winter Carnival further

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