The Theme Of Betrayal In A Separate Peace, By John Knowles

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A Separate Peace: Betrayal

A Separate Peace has many themes represented through the duration of the book. One of John Knowles most expressed themes is betrayal. Knowles does so through various literary devices and techniques. Knowles’ setting is a tremendous contributor to the betrayal between Gene and Phineas (Finny). While Gene Forrester is at Devon there is a numerous amount of foreshadowing being used. The war, the steps, and even the tree are examples of foreshadowing being represented in the beginning of the book and not completely understood until the end. The flashback narrative plays a major contributor to the theme of betrayal while Gene Forrester is at Devon school. Knowles does this to make connections between the reader
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The beginning of the book takes place at Devon during the year 1957, but actually takes place, “fifteen years prior” causing Gene to recall the life changing memory (Knowles 9). The recollection of this traumatic memory has stuck with Gene for a long time. Some of Gene’s most vivid memories about Devon school are the acts of envy and resentment towards his best friend Finny and his actions that led up to Finny’s death. The flashback narrative incorporates suspense and mystery into the story. Gene gives suspense when him and Brinker are talking about the incident with Finny and how Gene got a room all to himself and Brinker saying, “ you knew all the time, I’ll bet it was all your doing” (Knowles 88). Gene denies this but eventually agrees to have hurt Finny. As they go to the dungeon Brinker jokingly tells the other students here is your prisoner he is guilty of hurting Finny. Gene initially denies it but starts playing along too and says that, “I have poisoned him, stolen all of his money, and made love to his sister in Mr. Ludsbury study” (Knowles 90). Later in that chapter Knowles ends it by saying, “Phineas was back” (102). By Knowles saying this it creates suspense for how Gene will act towards Phineas now that he has returned to Devon. Gene is faced with the ultimatum to either keep pretending like he is superior to Phineas and does not need him, or to go back to his old ways and continue to be his friend and be there to help him throughout his injury. With the death of Phineas, Gene ends his flashback by saying, “I did not cry then or ever about Finny. I could not escape a feeling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case” (Kowles 194). The death of Phineas leaves Gene feeling guilty for his death because he had built up a false image of himself to look cool for the other

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