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A Seperate Peace Essay

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The novel A Separate Peace by John Knowles follows the story of a group of young men who attend an all-boy's boarding school in New England, Devon School. Based on the accounts of his life, A Separate Peace is the most outstanding piece of writing among Knowles array of literary works. The temporal setting of this novel is in the preceding years of World War II. The influence of the war is seen universally throughout the book, but heavily affects the lives of the characters. Three such characters who are clearly affected by the war are Gene Forrester, Finny, and Elwin "Leper" Lepellier. The novel is written from Gene`s perspective, who is a very intelligent young man and very academically focused; however, he encompasses many insecurities. Finny is Gene`s best friend throughout the novel; he is very athletic and overwhelmingly popular, which seems to be the opposite of Gene`s attributes. Leper, a classmate of Gene and Finny, is very calm and easy-going young man. Throughout the novel it is evident that the ever-present war affects Gene, Finny and Leper mentally and socially.

For the duration of this novel, it is apparent that Gene is affected by World War II mentally and socially. A Separate Peace reveals that World War II affects Gene but is incorporated along with his personal struggles. In the novel, it is shown that even before Gene joins the army he fights his own personal battles over his relationship with Finny, fueling all of his insecurities. On the final page of the novel, Gene elucidates that by facing his insecurities, his ability to hurt the people around him and the jealousy he feels towards Finny he had already faces the struggles in war, ". . . my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there" (204). This statement made by Gene shows that he had already struggled with the issues involved with war before he actually ever fought in a combat battle. In war, many people are finally struck with the realization of killing others and the malice involved, whereas Gene has already comprehended this realization when he attempts to hurt his good friend Finny by pushing him off of the tree. Additionally, the war had also affected Gene when his friends began to enlist. To avoid any loneliness and to maintain social status Gene feels like it is necessary to enlist in war with his friends, "I'm giving it up, I'm going to enlist. Tomorrow." (100) This decision made by Gene shows the affect of the war because given that all of his peers are so eager to fight, Gene feels like if he does not follow this trend, he will be called "cowardly" or "not manly enough". Overall, it can be see that the impact of World War II had affected Gene not only mentally when he faces the realities of war, but socially as well as he begins to follow what all of his peer do.

In the novel A Separate Peace, the war affects the character Finny mentally and socially. Before Finny had become seriously injured from falling of the tree branch, he had no desire to enlist in the war or to fight. Yet, after he has fallen and became crippled it was clear to him that there was no way he would be able to participate in sports,



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