The passage from page 13-14 of John Knowles’ A Separate Peace gives a tone of fear by using the oxymoron “…the more things remain the same, the more they change”, simile “forbidding as an artillery piece”, and diction “grandeur” and “beanstalk”. Then, the tone transitions to a tone of relief; the author uses diction “changed” and “thankful, very thankful”, the personification “weary from age, enfeebled, dry” and the alliteration “double demotion”.
The author gives the tone of fear in the first two paragraph of the small passage when Gene goes to see the tree. Knowles uses the oxymoron “…the more things remain the same, the more they change” to suggest that Gene still fears he has not changed, that he is still living in the past. Gene feels that he is still the same while visiting the marble steps and the tree; time has not changed him. In addition, “grandeur” and “beanstalk” are used to characterize the tree. Knowles uses “beanstalk” , also an allusion, to describe to the reader that Gene felt the tree was high as the beanstalk was to Jack in the English fairy tale; he uses “grandeur” to emphasize and describe the height of the tree as well. Also, the author describes the tree as “forbidding as an artillery piece” to indicate that the tree is dangerous and unsafe. Gene was afraid that he has not changed and was living in the past, and he feared the dangerous, tall tree because of Finny’s accident.