World War 2 Symbolism in a Separate Peace

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World War II Symbolism in A Separate Peace

World War II symbolizes the “enemy” that each character has to face to become

an adult. Gene comes to understand that every person has his or her own private enemy

that they spend their lives trying to overcome. He says “my war ended before I ever

put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there.”

This shows that Gene thinks of his own personal war as something he had to face at

school rather than by enlisting in World War II. Gene’s personal war was overcoming his

jealousy and hatred for others that excelled ahead of him. Instead of accepting that Finny

was a better person and focusing on self-improvement, Gene convinced himself that Finny

was jealous too. When that proved false, he passive-aggressively jounced the limb of a tree Finny was standing in, causing Finny to fall, break his leg, and loose all his chances of being in the war or the olympics. By the time Brinker tried to enlist with Gene, he couldn’t because he still felt bad for Finny. When Gene did not enlist, Brinker held the trial in an attempt to finally deal with Gene

and Finny’s rivalry. This provoked Finny to run away and fall down the marble stairs because Finny was running away from his enemy, the fact that Gene, the last person Finny has in the world, would ever want to hurt him. Finny's fall lead to his ultimate death. Gene never faced his jealousy towards Finny until after his death. Gene had won his war, but he had lost his best friend in battle. Finny also had his own personal war. Finny was under the impression that everyone was as carefree and easy-going as he and had a hard time accepting that others might feel anger, jealousy,

or rivalry, especially not his best friend Gene. Even after Gene had passive-aggressively

caused Finny to break his leg, since Finny could no longer be a part of the war, he denied

Gene’s hostility by saying that the war was not real. It wasn’t...
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