Essay about A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

1150 Words 5 Pages
War and peace exist in more ways than large military conflicts, occurring between ideas and between people. Themes often explored in literature, war and peace, can be represented simply as personal conflicts, such as those between close friends. John Knowles’ A Separate Peace deals with the issue of war and peace by showing Peace, personified by Phineas, to be happy, naïve and confident, and War, personified by Gene, to be tortured, malicious and insecure, and that resolution to the conflict between them comes only from an understanding of the world around them. Peace in A Separate Peace is shown to be carefree, innocent and blissful, as embodied by teenage boys, most specifically Phineas. Peace is addressed early and frequently in …show more content…
Phineas is not just unaware and uninvolved with what goes on around him, but not even caring, a state of bliss that could only exist when he isolates it from all sorts of evil, which he does actively, when he tells Gene that “the first person who says something unpleasant gets a swift kick in the ass” (32), and replies to Gene’s confession of guilt in the breaking of Phineas’ leg by saying, “Of course you didn’t” (70) War in the novel is represented by Gene’s aggressive struggle with insecurity, and his projection of this insecurity on his friend, Phineas, suggesting that war is foolish, painful, and jealous. War is frequently on the mind of the boys at Devon, as their senior year marks their last few months before becoming eligible for the draft, but World War Two is not the only war that is fought through the book. At the end of the book, the narrator writes that he was “on active duty all [his] time at school: [he] killed [his] enemy there" (196). Throughout the novel, Gene fights both his own feelings of envy, and the object of his envy: Phineas, making it unclear who the elder Gene believes was the enemy he killed. Gene uses violence several times throughout the book, most importantly to jounce

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