A Separate Peace by John Knowles explores many different themes. Knowles’s understanding of these themes helps the reader understand exactly what he means. The main theme that is present within A Separate Peace is the theme of self-identity. The writer makes this theme clear multiple times throughout the novel. The first time we see the idea of self-identity in A Separate Peace is when we observe Gene change his nature to be more like Finny. Finny convinces Gene, and a few other boys, to jump from a tree into the river. Gene, although originally apprehensive, does leap, to “fit in” with Finny and the others. This need to be someone else compromises Gene’s self-identity.
The next time the theme of self-identity is truly clear is when Finny gets injured. This is a turning point that pushes Gene to become his own person, rather than a copy of Finny. As Gene moves away from being “just like” Finny he truly becomes himself and grows his self-identity. It is at this point in time that Gene really accepts his selfidentity. The most important way that the theme of self-identity is shown in A Separate Peace is through all of the characters. As the novel progresses, and the characters get older, they become who they are meant to be. Characters like Brinker change from a leader into a rebel, and many others undergo such a change as well. This is believed, by some, to be the most important showing of self-identity.
All of these explorations of the theme of self-identity are important to the outcome of the novel. The fact that we see Gene lose his self-identity as well as watch him regain it is a wonderful thing that is not present in most other novels; while secondary characters finding their own identity makes this a great coming of age story. Each of these times the theme is explored it is clear that the most important theme, in this novel, is the theme of self-identity.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document