Peace only comes at the price of great struggle and sacrifice for most people. In essence, it only comes when you have defeated the enemy, or the enemy has defeated you. John Knowles was able to capture the subtle goal and essence of his novel by titling it A Separate Peace. A Separate Peace is a story about Gene Forrester, the protagonist of the story, and his constant struggle with the underlying emotional conflicts present in him. He has to fight a war within his own mind that every man has to fight for himself. His battles eventually uproot underlying emotions—emotions of jealousy, envy, and subdued hatred—that he feels for people that he had undying loyalty for, and an equally strong trust. These emotions then set off a series of events that change his life forever, and he has to fight more for peace amidst a world of chaos. He experiences new feelings— fear, frustration, pity, and undeniable guilt. From his experiences in his last year of school at Devon, he emerges with greater strength, greater understanding, maturity, and he finds the separate peace that every man longs for.
“Phineas just walked serenely on, or rather flowed on, rolling forward in his white sneakers with such unthinking unity of movement that “walk” didn’t describe it. When the novel begins, John Knowles leaves a subtle detail of Phineas’ character through his vivid descriptions of his movements. Phineas always represented an uninterrupted flow of strength and energy, like a river with nothing capable of changing its current speed. He represented tranquility in chaos, the calm before the storm. Not even rules were able to stop Finny’s consistent serenity. Even though Phineas was very fond of breaking the rules, he did it in a way that not even the Masters were able to resist siding with him. Throughout the book, no major emotional reactions are displayed by Phineas. In the novel, he did not reveal any change of emotions until the...
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