A Separate Peace: the Theme Rite of Passage

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The theme "rite of passage" was used in the novel A Separate Peace, by John Knowles. This moving from innocence to adulthood was contained within three sets of interconnected symbols: summer and winter, the Devon and Naguamsett Rivers, and peace and war. These symbols served as a backdrop upon which the novel was developed. The loss if Gene Forrester's innocence was examined through these motifs. The summer and winter sessions symbolized Gene's loss of innocence. During the summer sessions, the boys of Devon were carefree and showed no respect for the rules, while the teachers put no effort into enforcing the rules. "This was the way the masters tended to treat us that summer," (Knowles 23). Together, Gene and Finny formed the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session. The Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session represented the freedom and naiveté of the summer. Unlike the summer, the winter session was defined by rules and discipline; the teachers now enforced the rules unlike the summer. The fight that occurred between Gene and Quackenbush set the tone for the winter session. "I had never been in it before; it seemed inappropriate that my baptism had taken place in the first day of the winter session and that I had been thrown into it, in the middle of a fight," (Knowles 86). Gene's transformation began with the summer and winter sessions. Equally important to Gene's metamorphosis were the Devon and Naguamsett Rivers. Devon School sat in between these two rivers, the Devon and the Nagumasett. The Devon River was pure. "I had taken a shower to wash off the sticky salt of the Naguamsett River-going into the Devon was like taking a refreshing shower itself, you never had to clean up after it, but the Naguamsett was something else entirely," (Knowles 86). The Devon represented innocence, and all of the fun times Gene and Finny had together with the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Sessions. When Finny fell because Gene...
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