Importance Of Innocence In The Novel A Separate Peace By John Knowles

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William Godwin, an English journalist, political philosopher and novelist said “No man knows the value of innocence and integrity but he who has lost them”. Godwin suggests only people who have lost their integrity and innocence know how much they are worth. In the novel A Separate Peace John Knowles develops the personality of each boy in a unique way and each of them discovers the importance of innocence and integrity because they lose those qualities. The boys at Devon are at a coming of age time in their life, right before they are going into the war. Devon is their separate peace from world war two but they know they are going to have to face it eventually. Through the characterization of Leper, Finny and Gene as insane, damaged and …show more content…
Leper loses his innocence too fast because he is intrigued by the positives of the war and as it lures him in, it changes him dramatically and gradually forms his insanity. Leper goes from being quiet and strange to being the face of the war from the boys. When Leper enlisted, Gene is surprised and says, “No real war could draw Leper voluntarily away from his snails and beaver dams. His enlistment seemed just another of Leper’s vagaries... satisfying one of his urges to participate in nature, Leper Lepellier was the first thing the rising sun struck in the United States.” (126) At the start of the novel Leper is the only one who doesn't participate in war activities such as shoveling the railroad tracks, instead he goes to find the “beaver dams”. Leper made a dramatic change in his life when he impulsively decided to enlist because he is not even around for war activities when they were happening. Leper us unaware of the harsh punishments the world, he is only involved in the good parts of nature like the beavers …show more content…
When Finny is in his fake world he tells the other boys what he convinces himself to think. “In a way,” deep in argument, his eyes never wavered from mine, “the whole world is on a Funny Farm now. But it’s only the fat old men who get the joke.” “And you.” “Yes, and me.” “What makes you so special? Why should you get it and all the rest of us be in the dark?” The momentum of the argument abruptly broke from his control. His face froze. “Because I’ve suffered,” he burst out” (116). In reality, there are no “fat old men” and these characters that Finny creates are just a way to help him cope with the war, they symbolize Finny's unwillingness to face reality. Also, the only reason he is the only one other than the old men that “gets the joke” is because he is the only one out of his group of friends at Devon who cannot go to war because he has “suffered” and he has a disability now. Whenever Finny talks about the war he gets defensive and either changes the subject or convinces everyone around him that the world is a “funny farm”, until he admits why. He admits that the reason he does not believe in the war is because he had “been writing to the Army and the Navy and the Marines and the Canadians and everybody else all

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