There have been many novels written about war and the viciousness of men concerning what happens, why it happens and why it should stop. What makes A Separate Peace unique is that in protesting war John Knowles never overtly refers to the blood and gore of war. Knowles brings up the theme that during hard times man's inhumanity to other man is very apparent. Knowles explains through the life of Finny and the other boys why war will never cease and why cruelty among men is character of their lives.
The first incident that indicates this inhumanity is the scene when Finny falls out of the tree. While Gene is responsible for Finny's fall off the tree, the reader is in some confusion as to what really happened. All the book states at this juncture is that "(Gene) holding firmly to the trunk, [takes] a step near him (Finny), and then [his] knees bounced and [he] jounced the limb. Finny, his balanced gone, swung his head to look at [him] for an instant with extreme interest, and then tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud" (52). The reader does not know whether it was intentional or accidental. It is not until later that Finny realizes that Gene is responsible for his crippling, and what a natural thing it was to do. Gene, being the inhumane person he is, bounced the branch just to see if he could make the invincible Finny fall. Gene was scared of Finny, of his confidence, his abilities, and his potential for breaking records. Consider Gene's paranoia over Finny's attempts to make him adventurous. Gene interprets these genuine acts of friendship as attempts to prevent him from reaching his top potential. For example when Gene is studying for his French exam, Finny comes in and says that Leper wants to jump out of the tree. Gene knows that Leper won't do it and thinks that "Finny had put him up to it to finish [him] for good on the exam"(49).
Gene thinks that Finny wants... [continues]
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(2006, 11). War - Cruelty. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 11, 2006, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/War-Cruelty-100137.html
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"War - Cruelty." StudyMode.com. 11, 2006. Accessed 11, 2006. http://www.studymode.com/essays/War-Cruelty-100137.html.