A Separate Peace: Analysis

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Nyasia Manning
Ms. Barash
Ap English Literature
April 13, 2012
A Separate Peace:
Book Completed- 204 pages
A Separate Peace tells the story of a sixteen-year-old boy at boarding school in New Hampshire during World War II, and the mixed feelings of admiration and jealousy he harbors for his best friend and roommate. Things get messy pretty fast, as you might expect from a bunch of ill-supervised adolescents. John Knowles' novel, often compared to Catcher In The Rye, he raises a question about competition amongst teens. Competition is supposed to be healthy, but Knowles questions when do you draw a line between a fruitless rivalry and wanting to win at all costs. Knowles uses themes of friendship, identity and youth to establish quite clearly that knocking your best friend out of a tree is on the wrong side of that line.

A Separate Peace focuses on the friendship between two sixteen-year-old boys, and it's complicated. Friendship is a combination of admiration, respect, jealousy, and resentment. For all the camaraderie between them, these boys are still driven by good old healthy competition, which at times can end up being, well, less than healthy. Friendship blurs identity, as one boy begins to assimilate the life of the other. Narrator Gene has an inner struggle with himself trying to decide if he pushed best firend Finn off a tree, shattering his leg and dreams, on purpose or not. In the book he says "It struck me then that I was injuring him again. It occurred to me that this could be an even deeper injury than what I had done before. I would have to back out of it, I would have to disown it." There are two ways to interpret this passage. Either this is one of Gene's greatest moments of honesty or it's yet another moment of justification. Knowles leaves it to the reader to decide if Gene would rather live with his shame than hurt Finny by revealing the truth, or if he is pretending he doesn't want to hurt Finny in order to recant the truth and save...
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