A Separate Peace

Topics: A Separate Peace, World War II, World war Pages: 5 (1816 words) Published: December 5, 2013

As famous rapper Eminem once said, are you calling me, are you trying to get through. Are you reaching out for me, I’m reaching out for you. In John Knowles’ fictional novel A Separate Peace, the lives of three young men, Gene Forrester, Elwin “Leper” Lepellier, and Phineas, are shaped and constructed by the world war that is happening along side them. In their final year at the Devon school, the reality of the war becomes astonishingly more apparent when their detached unity is fragmentized. Each of the boy’s is impacted and affected by the war in a different way.

The war had an increasingly dramatic effect on Finny throughout out the novel. In the beginning, Finny had a naïve and idealistic attitude towards the war. To him it was all a big game. When residing with his friends he invents a game, Blitzball, a game in which the combat side of Finny is utterly apparent. “Blitzball was made up by Finny so that he could be in control” (Critical Analysis of A Separate Peace).: He has unconsciously invented a game, which brought out his own athletic pitch to their highest pitch. The odds were tremendously against the ball carrier, so that Phineas was driven to exceed himself practically every day when he carried the ball. To escape the wolf pack which all the other players became he created reverses and deceptions and acts of sheer mass hypnotism, which were, so extraordinary they surprised even him. (Knowles 39) The game in fact is just a metaphor, created by Phineas to symbolize each of the boy’s individual struggles with the war. “Finny’s reality of the war comes into making up his own rules while eluding the real ones” (Critical Analysis of A Separate Peace). Since Phineas was the creator of Blitzball he could make changes to his rules and have an excuse for it. Finny used his games as an excuse for the boy’s “shaping up for the war” (Knowles 28). Finny uses the war as an excuse for almost everything he did. When getting in trouble for misbehaving he vindics it with “getting ready for the war” (Knowles 15). Towards the middle of the novel we begin to scrutinize change in Finny. Before the accident Finny shows almost no interest in actually going to war, but once crippled and can no longer join, he wants to, for one reason and one reason only: he cannot. Which proves to be a problem for the once wide-eyed Phineas. He makes up for it by stating that the war simply just is not real. He convinces Gene to forget the war and train for the Olympics with him: He drew me increasingly away from the butt room crowd…into a world inhabited by just himself and me, where there was no war at all, just Phineas and me alone among all the people of the world, training for the Olympics of 1944. (Knowles 127) Finny is not scared of the fact that he cannot be a part of the war, rather he fears that everybody will be participating in the war and he will be left behind. So by convincing Gene to prepare for the Olympics and not the war it assures that he will not be completely left out. Leading up to Phineas’ death, Finny starts to become more acceptant of the war and his fate brought to him by Gene. “…You’ve already shown me and I believe you”(Knowles 191). In the end Finny is finally able to rap his head around the reality of the war and what has happened in his final year in Devon and life. If the war had not been a part of Phineas’ life, thing could have turned out differently for him.

The war seems to have the greatest affect on Leper out of all the boys. Leper was a peaceful quiet boy. His initial attitude toward the war is that it cannot and dose not affect him. Leper does not enjoy partaking in activities with his friends. For instance, when the boys are playing Blitzball, a mock war game, Leper shows his disapproval of the war. “Taken by surprise Leper looked up and shrank away from the ball, and voiced his first thought. A typical on I don’t want it!” (Knowles 39). Leper follows his own set of rules and is separate from the rest of...

Cited: Eminem, Are you calling me, are you trying to get through. Are you reaching out for me, I’m reaching out for you. “Beautiful”. Relapse: Refill. Relapse. Interscope Records. 2009.
"A Separate Peace By John Knowles Critical Essays Gene and Finny: Doubles." Gene and Finny: Doubles. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. .
"150,000 ESSAYS." Free Essay on Critical Analysis of "A Separate Peace" N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. .
"A Separate Peace By John Knowles Critical Essays From Innocence to Experience in A Separate Peace." From Innocence to Experience in A Separate Peace. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. .
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