A Separate Peace- Study guide
What two locations- which he describes as “fearful’- does the narrator visit? How does he describe each? The narrator describes the marble staircase and the tree as “fearful” sites, he describes the marble staircase as being “unusually hard” and “not very deep” (3), and the tree as having “certain small scars rising along its trunk’ and as the tree being “the giants of your childhood” (6). What is suggested by the tone of the opening section of the novel? The opening section of the novel uses diction like “fear”, “lifeless, “self-pitying”, which conveys a negative tone, which informs the reader that the author (Gene) has a fear and is terrified of the Devon school. What is implied when the narrator considers “how far (his) convalescence had gone”? When the narrator sais “how far (his) convalescence had gone”, he’s implying that he’s been injured and is going through the process of his body repairing itself. Consider the narrator’s reflection that, “Nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not even a death by violence.” What do all of the clues provided most likely suggest? When the author said that “not even a death by violence”, he’s suggesting/ foreshadowing the death of a character in the story. How do the weather and the time of year emphasize the mood of the opening section? The author describes the time of year as “a raw, nondescript time of year, toward the end of November”, it was “wet”, and “icy”, which emphasize how dull and dark the mood is, reflecting the author’s feelings of “fear”. World War Two is introduced as a factor in the novel, as Devon is preparing them for being drafted into the war at the end of their senior year. The significance of Finny’s name is that it’s traces back to Phineas from Greek mythology, who is a blind man, and the significance of the meaning is that Finny is too blind to see that Gene envy’s him. When Gene and Finny are walking back to the dormitory it illustrates that they were “best of friends at (the) moment” (10), and that they enjoy each other company. Knowles emphasizes the distance of war from their lives by saying that they use “illegal radio(s), turned too low to be intelligible”, that was “brocrasting the news” (12), which demonstrates the isolation that is between Devon and the war, because there quietly listening to the news, when they’re not supposed too, in a way Devon is sheltering and nurturing them from the war. Chapter 2
The primary purpose of the short chapter is to introduce the character of Phineas, by describing him as “true and sincere” (16), and that he “could get away with anything” (18), and is a “charm(ing)” (21) young man. Phineas’ ability to say “what he happened to be thinking” stunned people, because everything “he said was true and sincere” (16). Finny wearing a pink shirt indicates that he likes to draw attention, and he’s capable of getting away with anything, since he could’ve been beat up for such a fashion statement. Gene envies Finny because “Phineas could get away with anything” (18), from wearing a pink shirt, to wearing a tie as a belt, and talking his way out of punishments. The structural and thematic significance of this chapter, is that Finny saved Gene’s life, when Gene is over here complaining about how “sleek” (19), and “sharp” (19) he is, when he should be thanking him, but what if it were the opposite situation, would Gene do the same thing, and save his best friend’s life? Finny has a friendly love towards Gene, but Gene doesn’t. Finny and Gene climb up the tree, to jump off the same time, but in a short second, Gene lost his balance and Finny extended his arm and catch him and “practically saved (his) life” (24), Gene starts to catch up with his feelings of envy, and starts to regret ever doubting his friendship with Finny. Chapter 3
Gene’s sentiment from the previous chapter was grateful, and in the beginning of chapter three Gene said that he “wouldn’t have been on that damn limb...
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