A Separate Peace: The Meaning of Peace in Life

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A Separate Peace
Harmony does not exist without destruction. Out of war, approaches all that peace has to offer. In the novel, A Separate Peace, (the author, Knowles) uncovers the meaning of peace concerning the multiple branches of life. The setting takes place miles away from the battles during World War II. At an all boy high school named Devon, the two main characters Phineas and Gene become best friends. However, when Gene pushes Finny off the tree, peace takes on a different role, and continues to change throughout the story. The title relates to the simple things in life as well as peace that may underlie evil.

“A separate peace” can relate to the theme regarding Phineas and Gene. Gene’s struggle of finding his true character may be related to his own search for happiness. Gene is constantly comparing and contrasting himself to Phineas; leaving Gene to be aloof with whom he really is. His desire to be like Finny drives Gene over the edge. On impulse, Gene pushes Finny, letting him plummet on the rocks and breaking his leg. After the incident, Gene essentially finds the peace he always wanted. He is now able to be himself, and finally come out of his best friend’s shadow. When they remain friends, Finny teaches Gene that he can achieve anything he wishes. They become teachers and supporters of one another. Gene learns that he had just been lazy, and didn’t have the motivation in him to reach his full potential. His search for a personal “separate peace” is a constant theme throughout the novel.

Finny can also be seen as a “separate peace.” He is very anti-war during the novel. He denies that World War II is actually happening. He refuses to believe that there is destruction in the world. We specifically see this when he rejects Gene’s apology of pushing him out of the tree. Finny doesn’t believe that his own best friend could purposely hurt him. Although he ends up forgiving Gene, his refusal to believe Gene’s confession shows that Finny does accept...
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