An Analysis of A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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“A Separate Peace”: Book Talk Entry: Question 2
In A Separate Peace, Gene Forrester is the narrator of the story. The book is written of the events that take place in his memory of his high school years he recalls from fifteen years earlier. Gene narrates the book in first person point of view, describing everything from his perspective and as he remembers them. Sometimes during the book it is difficult to keep up with the narrator as sometimes he seems to be talking as the younger gene as if the events he is recalling are happening as he speaks. Also, because we are only getting gene’s perspective, we don’t know whether everything that happens between the boys is exactly how it happened. It’s kind of like if a brother and sister were in some kind of trouble they each would twist around the story to make themself look better or the other look worst. This makes Gene as a narrator unreliable. The reality of the story would be most reliable with an omniscient perspective, meaning the narrator would be of a higher power and hold knowledge of each character’s internal feelings. However with a book like “A Separate Peace”, knowing everything basically eliminates the storyline and the factors that make the story interesting. For example, if we knew from the start that Phineas was never really jealous towards Gene, Gene would become more of a negative character in our minds because we would only see Gene’s jealousy. We also wouldn’t understand Gene’s shock as he discovers Phineas’ retaliating admiration to him as we do when we learn it further into the book.
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