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John Knowle's "A Separate Peace" Essay

677 words - 3 pages

Often in a work of literature, a character's experiences and realizations offer a reader a greater understanding of human behavior and emotion. John Knowle's A Separate Peace, the character Gene has experiences with life shattering events and he eventually understands the boys' separate peace. His ultimate healing represent the pathway from adolescent immaturity to adult understanding. John Knowles gives the reader clues and information to help the reader understand this.Gene's character is introduced into the story as an obsessive thinker, with this, he is one of the few boys who realize that Devon has it's own separate peace. Gene is preoccupied with the " unforgiving, foolish gypsy ways" of the summer session (Knowles 65). As he "had almost caught the rhythm of it, the dancing, the clicking, jangle of it" he virtually forgets about the war (Knowles 65). This is only ...view middle of the document...

Finny's shattered leg results in him permanently unable to play sports. Knowles uses Phineas as a representation of the light and immaturity of summer. Once Finny is injured, all of this changes. Gene is also haunted by the guilt of jouncing the tree's limb, causing Finny's disability.Yet another hapless event is when Gene finds out about Leper's leave from the war. Leper's new condition was an awakening to everyone in Devon. Not only is the war intruding on their separate peace, but also it takes one of their members away. Gene visits Leper at his home and discovers that he is mentally ill. The war and it's vigorous training had driven Leper mad. Gene, and the rest of the boys at Devon, is in disbelief that such an event could occur to someone they once knew.The final and most disastrous event is Phineas' death. This is Gene's final realization and first step into adult understanding. Gene feels as if Phineas was his other half and a part of him had also died with Finny., " I didn't cry, I couldn't... it was like being at my own funeral" (Knowles 102). This describes Gene's solemn acceptance of Finny's death.The boys graduate and enlist in the war. Gene is glad that his coming regimentation does not take place at Devon, where he spent his idealistic summer. As he is focused upon the war and thoughts of guilt and his experiences with Finny are nearly forgotten but left unsolved. Gene returns, fifteen years after the war, to the great tree, which he first jumped off with Finny. Gene's return to Devon gives him an opportunity to privately face his fears of the memories with Finny. His acceptance allows him to release some of the feelings and guilt kept inside of him for so long.Experiences from tragic events in his younger years help him into adulthood. His comprehension of Devon's separate peace is based upon knowledge that seems to make him wise beyond his years. These along with the other life shattering events prepare him for the coming hardships of adulthood. At the end of the story, Gene's understanding and final healing helps him mature from his adolescent immaturity.

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