A Seperate Peace- Alter Ego

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Jessica Carbone
Summer 2011
Honors English 10

A Separate Peace

The novel A Separate Peace, written by John Knowles, is about two young boys attending prep school together in the early 1940’s during World War II. Gene, the main character and the narrator of the novel, is a highly intellectual, sarcastic 16-year-old who struggles throughout the book to discover his true self. Phineas, on the other hand, is athletic, careless and highly admired by his peers, and seems to get away with anything he pleases. Throughout the story the friendship between the boys strengthens, but at many times is tested by the pair’s risky feats and competitiveness.

The story starts with older Gene going back to the New Hampshire prep school he attended alongside Phineas, and their other friend Leper, to reminisce on memories he made at Devon fifteen years earlier, that greatly affected his life. He has a flashback of himself, Phineas, Leper and two of their other friends, standing at the foot of a large tree set by a river. Phineas, who appears to be the leader of the group, decides that they should jump out of the tree into the river. Gene reluctantly agrees, and after being the only boy besides Phineas to take the leap, forms a bond between the pair that is the start of their friendship.

The boys are then late for dinner and decide instead to return back to the dormitories where they coincidently are roommates. The two of them then form a secret society that consists of a nightly ritual of jumping from the same tree. At this point in the story, it appears that Gene is envious of his new friend’s charisma and leadership, but keeps it to himself.

One night, before the society’s ritual tree jump, Phineas decides that instead of going one at a time, that Gene should join him up on the tree limb and they should jump together. At first Gene believes that Phineas is trying to sabotage his grades in school, and believes that the friendship the boys share is really a...
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