A Separate Peace A Separate

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					A Separate Peace
   John Knowles
John Knowles

“All of my books are based on places, places
  I know very well and feel very deeply
  about. I begin with that place and then
  the characters and the plot emerge from
  it… A Separate Peace began with a playing
  field at Exeter Academy.” – John Knowles
John Knowles
• John Knowles was born in 1926 in Fairmont,
    West Virginia
•   His father and mother were originally from
    Massachusetts, where the family spent summer
    vacations.
•   Knowles’s best known works are set in New
    England
•   At the age of 15, Knowles was admitted to a
    New England boarding school, Phillips Exeter
    Academy.
John Knowles
• Knowles’s affection for Exeter Academy is
    reflected in his first novel, A Separate Peace
•   Shortly after he entered school, the US declared
    war on Japan and entered WWII
•   Knowles went into the military after graduating
    high school and trained to be a pilot.
•   When the war ended, he decided to go back to
    school and attended Yale.
A Separate Peace
• The central story of the novel begins less
  than a year after the December 7, 1941
  attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii
• Most Americans at this time did not want
  the US to enter the war
• The novel is not about World War II, but
  the war has a strong influence on the
  characters
Themes
• Loss of Innocence
  – Gene’s loss of innocence is a loss of illusions about
    human nature in general and himself in particular
  – Gene discovers the darker side of human nature
  – He discovers in himself the potential for violence and
    destructiveness
  – Gene mistakenly suspects Finny of acting spitefully
    toward him and he begins to act with malice towards
    Finny. When he discovers he is mistaken about Finny
    he must confront the truth about himself.
Themes
• Friendship
  – Gene and Finny’s friendship involves a strong
    identification with each other.
  – Finny fails to see needs of Gene’s that are different
    from his own; Gene unconsciously projects his own
    resentments onto Finny.
  – The over-identification that the boys have towards
    each other, leads to Finny’s injury, which strengthens
    their friendship for a time.
  – Gene becomes more athletic like Finny used to be
    and Finny becomes more like Gene’s old self.
Themes
• Fear
  – The mature Gene sees fear as the underlying force
    that drove his life at Devon. Gene feels that when
    one can face their fears, then they have found the
    key to controlling the destructive aspects of human
    nature.
  – Gene lives in constant fear at Devon – fear of failure,
    fear of humiliation, fear of authority
  – After making peace with Finny, Gene discovers
    freedom from fear and realizes it was fear that bred
    in him the capacity for hatred and violence.
Themes
• Alienation
  – Gene and his classmates experience a detachment of
    alienation from the rest of the world. They are
    sheltered from the harsh realities of the war and
    world by privilege. (peaceful and positive)
  – Gene experiences alienation in his guilt over Finny’s
    fall. Gene is alone with a terrible secret and he
    becomes less trusting. (negative)
  – Gene is even more alienated when Finny turns
    against him, but he is finally restored when he is
    forgiven.

				
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posted:4/8/2010
language:English
pages:9