The phrase, "a separate peace," is mentioned once in the novel when, speaking of the Winter Carnival, Gene writes: The Devon of and is, at times, a haven of peace and forgetfulness for Gene and his classmates. And it is significant that it is termed a "separate peace" because it indicates that the peace achieved is not part of the surrounding reality, which, for Gene, is a world of conflict, a world at war.
Plot summary[ edit ] Gene Forrester, the protagonist, returns to his old prep school, Devon a thinly veiled portrayal of Knowles' alma mater, Phillips Exeter Academy fifteen years after he graduated, to visit two places he regards as "fearful sites": First, he examines the stairs and notices that they are made of very hard marble.
He then goes to the tree, which brings back memories of Gene's time as a student at Devon. From this point, the novel follows Gene's description of the time span from the summer of to the summer of Inhe was 16 and living at Devon with his best friend and roommate, Phineas nicknamed Finny.
At the time, World War II is taking place and has a prominent effect on the story. Gene and Finny, despite being opposites in personality, are close friends at Devon: Gene's quiet, introverted, intellectual personality is a character foil for Finny's extroverted, carefree, athleticism.
During his time at Devon, Gene goes through a period of intense kinship with Finny. One of Finny's ideas during Gene's "gypsy summer" of is to create a "Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session", with Gene and himself as charter members. Finny creates a rite of initiation by having members jump into the Devon River from a large, high tree.
Gene and Finny's friendship goes through a period of fun, one-sided rivalry during which Gene strives to out-do Finny academically, since he believes Finny is trying to out-do him.
This rivalry begins with Gene's jealousy towards Finny. This rivalry climaxes and is ended when, as Finny and Gene are about to jump off the tree, Gene impulsively jounces the branch they are standing on, causing Finny to fall and shatter his leg, permanently crippling him.
Because of his "accident", Finny learns that he will never again be able to compete in sports, which are most dear to him.
This leads to Gene starting to think like Finny to try to be a better person and to try to solve some of his envy towards him.
The remainder of the story revolves around Gene's attempts to come to grips with who he is, why he shook the branch, and how he will go forward. Gene feels so guilty that he tells Finny that he caused Finny's fall.
At first Finny does not believe him and afterward feels extremely hurt. World War II soon occupies the schoolboys' time, with student Brinker Hadley rallying the boys to help the war effort and Gene's quiet friend Leper Lepellier joining the Ski Troops and becoming severely traumatized by what he sees.
During a meeting of the Golden Fleece Debating Society, Brinker sets up a show trial and, based upon his shaking of the branch, accuses Gene of trying to kill Finny. Faced with the evidence, Finny leaves shamefully before Gene's deed is confirmed.
A Separate Peace study guide contains a biography of John Knowles, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. John Knowles’ A Separate Peace: In his book A Separate Peace, John Knowles represents jocks with Phineas, a character who believes that sports are the key to life. Phineas is more of a sportsman than a jock. LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Separate Peace, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. Though not a single shot is fired in the novel, A Separate Peace can be thought of as a war novel.
On his way out, Finny falls down a flight of stairs the same ones Gene visits at the beginning of the novel and again breaks the leg he had shattered before.
Finny at first dismisses Gene's attempts to apologize, but he soon realizes that the "accident" was impulsive and not anger-based. The two forgive each other. The next day, Finny dies during the operation to set the bone when bone marrow enters his bloodstream during the surgery.
Gene observes that many people lash out at others in order to protect themselves from their own insecurities, and the only person he knew who didn't do that was Finny, as he was the only person Gene knew who was truly honest, and who never had an internal war to fight.
Back in the present, an older Gene muses on peace, war, and enemies. Characters[ edit ] Gene Forrester: A Separate Peace is told from Gene's point of view. Gene focuses on, and succeeds at, academics. He envies his roommate Finny's graceful, easy athleticism and social prowess.
Gene is from "three states from Texas", and is therefore somewhat unaccustomed to Northeastern culture. Gene causes his best friend's fall in his suppressed envy, by making a small but deliberate quick move on a tree branch from which Phineas would not otherwise have fallen.
He is the main character. Gene's best friend and roommate; an incorrigible, good natured, athletic, daredevil type. In Gene's opinion, he can never leave anything well enough alone, and could always get away with anything. He always sees the best in others, seeks internal fulfillment free of accolades, and shapes the world around himself to fit his desires.John Knowles’ A Separate Peace: In his book A Separate Peace, John Knowles represents jocks with Phineas, a character who believes that sports are the key to life.
Phineas is . Symbols in A Separate Peace, by John Knowles Essay Words | 3 Pages. The theme “rite of passage” was used in the novel A Separate Peace, by John Knowles. This moving from innocence to adulthood was contained within three sets of interconnected symbols: summer and winter, the Devon and Naguamsett Rivers, and peace and war.
John Knowles’ A Separate Peace: In his book A Separate Peace, John Knowles represents jocks with Phineas, a character who believes that sports are the key to life.
Phineas is more of a sportsman than a jock. A summary of Themes in John Knowles's A Separate Peace. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of A Separate Peace and what it means.
Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. John Knowles explores many themes in his novel, A Separate Peace; three of the most predominant themes throughout the novel are warfare, identity, and jealousy.
Search for Identity-- Gene. A Separate Peace: Theme Analysis, Free Study Guides and book notes including comprehensive chapter analysis, complete summary analysis, author biography information, character profiles, theme analysis, metaphor analysis, and top ten quotes on classic literature.