Universal Themes In A Separate Peace By John Knowles

833 Words4 Pages

“Preserved along with it, like stale air in an unopened room, was the well known fear which has surrounded and filled those days, so much of it that I hadn’t even known it was there.” (Knowles 10) In the beginning of A Separate Peace, Gene revisits Devon, he is able to pick out the details that he didn’t see when he was a student there, such as the woodwork. Also, he remembers the memories. More specifically, he remembers fear. Fear was always with him, however; he claims that he was unaware of it. His actions of shaking the tree, and facing the truth say otherwise. Knowles uses universal themes such as jealousy and a love-hate relationship in friendships and identity so the reader can understand the connection to modern day society and themselves. …show more content…

Their love-hate relationship sets up the main conflict in the story, which continues as the story unfolds. “Finny had deliberately set out to wreck my studies…..The way I believed that you’re-my-best-friend blabber! (Knowles 53) Gene believes that Finny is only interested in jeopardizing or even ruining Gene’s academics. This shows rivalry between them bringing out the “hate” in their relationship. This isn’t the case all the time, as shown with moments of “love”, such as their apology in the infirmary or just their respect for one another. Knowles does this so the reader can see these moments in their own friendship. To think there is a perfect relationship is an imperfect thought. There will always be some sort of rivalry, but moments of love to make up for them. Another theme that creates conflict between Gene and Finny is jealousy. …show more content…

During what was supposed to be a fun festival, Gene receives a telegram from their friend Leper. It states Gene must come to see him in Vermont. After arriving in Vermont and talking to Leper, it is clear to see that Leper has both mentally and physically changed due to the war. For example, he has many outbursts, constantly repeats that he has “escaped”, and believes people see him as a psycho. This causes most of Leper’s friends to feel differently about him such as when Brinker repeats “we have lost him.” Knowles does this so the reader can understand how war affects someone. Mental illnesses such as PTSD is sometimes overlook when really it’s an extreme condition for those who have it. One doesn’t fully realize what war is like until they experience it for themselves. This can create fear, which ties into the theme. Also, in the beginning of the story, when the characters are being introduced, the reader sees the desire of Gene to be like Finny. While Finny was injured, Gene felt guilt, but found a way to lose it momentarily. “One evening when I was dressing for dinner in this numbed frame of mind, an idea occurred to me, the first with energy behind it since Finny fell from the tree. I decided to put on his clothes” (Knowles 62). Not only does his try on Finny’s clothes, but throughout the story he also tries to find liking in sports and even senses a feeling of

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