Separate Peace Theme

1585 Words 7 Pages
The world is never at peace; there is always some type of battle occurring whether it be mental, verbal, or physical. However, many of these battles are preventable. This is portrayed in John Knowles’ novel, A Separate Peace, a story about two boys, Gene and Phineas, and their path to adulthood during World War II. By struggling through life’s obstacles, the boys slowly begin to mature. Knowles incorporates elegant and choppy syntax to illustrate that the creation of inner conflicts results in a loss of innocence after being tested by one’s full potential.
The undulating variance in punctuation portrays the characters’ development of inner struggles, allowing them to better understand the world and themselves. Such is illustrated after Gene
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He explains “all of them, all except Phineas, constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy who never attacked that way--if he ever attacked at all; if he was indeed the enemy” (204). The inclusion of commas to disconnect “all except Phineas” indicate that only Phineas does not see and thus, creates evil in the world. Because of his innocence, Phineas is also the only one who does not prepare for this “enemy” for he is unable to see one. A longer, more continuous phrase is then broken by a comma, drawing attention to how this so called enemy never hurts the characters. The following inclusion of a dash creates a longer pause than the previous comma does, but the last semicolon brings the longest pause of them all. As a result, these various pauses evenly separate the last three phrases, creating an uncertain tone doubting the character’s necessity to prepare. Such rhythmic interruptions allow Knowles to slowly increase emphasis on each phrase, drawing more attention to the idea that the enemy in the characters’ eyes may be mere delusion. Because the characters have created this unrealistic enemy, they begin to see the world as cruel and for this reason, gain a greater understanding of people’s mistrusting nature. After this loss of innocence, Knowles further suggests that people make immense sacrifices in order to fight their fake enemy--testing the extent of their selfishness. Similar ideas continue to develop through the Knowles' unique sentence

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