Motif Essay: a Separate Piece

Topics: World War II, A Separate Peace, World War I Pages: 1 (433 words) Published: June 7, 2012
The book A Separate Peace, written by John Knowles, is about kids at Devon, a private high school, during World War II. As the war progresses throughout the book, it takes over life at Devon more and more. Near the beginning of the book, the war is not really involved in Finny and Gene’s lives at Devon, except as a joke and excuse for breaking rules. Later on, though, the war develops into Finny and Gene’s lives at Devon. At first, as the war starts to take over life at Devon, the boys are thinking of it as a joke and use it as an excuse for breaking the rules. In fact, on page 8, Finny first jumps off the tree: “ ‘Well,’ he cried out, ‘here’s my contribution to the war effort!’ ” Here Finny is using the war as a joke. Later on, when Finny and Gene are talking to Mr. Prud’homme, Finny uses the war as an excuse for missing dinner: “ ‘We had to do that, naturally,’ he went on, ‘because we’re all getting ready for the war’ ” (15). Now Finny uses the war again, as an excuse. The war does not mean much to Gene and Finny yet, clearly illustrated buy Finny using it in jokes and excuses. Later on in the novel, the war starts to take over Finny and Gene’s lives at Devon. On page 64 it is clearly stated that “Peace had deserted Devon”, and on the next page the boys lose one of their normal luxuries as the chaos of war starts to appear around them, bit by bit. “...maids had disappeared ‘for the Duration,’ a new phase then” (65). This clearly shows the war taking over Finny and Gene’s lives at Devon, slowly, one bit at a time. Eventually, this effect continues until the end of the book, where Gene and Brinker physically witness the war taking over a part of Devon: “... and early in June I stood at the window and watched the war moving in to occupy [The Far Common]” (187). This shows the end of the long process of the war taking over life at Devon. Finny and Gene’s lives throughout A Separate Peace are slowly but eventually taken over by the war. At first the war is a joke...
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