A Separate Peace War And Peace Analysis

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This novel is about the contrasting themes of war and peace. Despite being set during the second World War and being a book that is primarily about war, there is not one bullet shot, no deaths in battle, and only one person actually enlists. The war seen in this novel is primarily the one within the human heart, and Knowles uses the second World War to highlight this theme better. According to Gene, everybody goes to war during their life, whether or not they are aware of it, and always results in the loss of one’s innocence and the graduation from adolescence to adulthood. For many of Gene’s peers, the real war coaxes this change and prompts a different reaction from everybody. For example, Brinker exhibits a pretentious attitude and Leper…show more content…
This ‘enemy’ can be argued one of two ways, the first being Finny, due to his embodiment of a being that is greater than Gene, or that Gene is his own enemy because of his resentful and envious nature, which he would have killed either by knocking Finny out of the tree or by obtaining forgiveness from Finny himself. Either way, the overall theme of war is reflected in the events that take place at Devon in 1942 and 1943, which could also explain why Finny perishes at the end of the novel; his innocence is not enough to withstand the cold-hearted nature of the war and the adult world. In contrast to this prominent theme of war, there is also a significant amount of peace involved throughout the novel, especially during the summer session in 1942. In the beginning Gene describes his relationship with Finny as “we were the best of friends at that moment” (Knowles 16), which shows that, despite later being at ‘war’ with Finny, he was once at peace with him. The entire summer is the epitome of peace, with Gene and his friends constantly goofing around, playing games, sneaking off school property, going swimming, and just being teenage boys, with little teacher supervision, which Gene comments on by saying that “we reminded them of what peace was like,…show more content…
In regards to Gene, the novel shows his ego competing with Finny’s, which only results in Finny’s fall from the tree and his tragic death when he falls a second time. Gene does admit to himself shortly after the tree incident that he is likely the cause of the fall and quickly feels responsible, due to the fact that before the fall he was becoming mad at Finny and thinking that he “deliberately set out to wreck [his] studies” (Knowles 47) because of Finny constantly asking him to play blitzball, meet with their group of friends nightly, and the ‘diversions’ that Gene felt he was constantly being dragged off to. Gene’s perfect grades were beginning to slip because of all the time that he had been taking away from his studying, and because he was always with Finny, he felt that he had someone to blame, which Gene then created an internal enemy with Finny, who had once been his best friend, because the thought that he was trying to sabotage him became too great, even saying that “it was all cold trickery, it was all calculated, it was all enmity” (Knowles 48). The entire novel shows the internal war that is fought by many throughout their lives, and transitions that individuals experience when moving from the ‘separate peace’ that is

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