In "A Separate Peace”, John Knowles uses the characters come to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, innocence and experience, and sympathy and hatred. Phineas uses denial to protect himself against the reality of war. One person can need protection to hide from an experience that's been haunting their lives like a death in the family. They need this protection to help them move on in life and find peace within themselves again. Some need protection from war in the thought of death during battle. This kind of protection is more physical then emotional in that it's asking for protection that would shield any bullet that could enter the body. Others need an emotional type of protection from jealousy and hatred and to escape their fears and from truth. This could be needed to help one get through the day and live without having to hide from other people's jealousy and hatred. In "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles, Phineas needs protection from the truth and reality. With this, John Knowles compares reality and the truth by exhibiting the cast as a barrier that protects Phineas from the world around him, as well as the thing of craziness and reality, of innocence and knowledge, and of love and disgust.
Phineas' defensive attitude towards the war and life in general is a result of his anxious character not wanting to accept the changes around him, leading him into denial for his friendship with Gene and the world outside the Devon school. When Phineas hears about the war, he puts himself into complete denial as he tells Gene, "Don't be a sap,' he gazed with cool self-possession at me, 'there isn't any war...that's what this whole war story is a horrible drug" (107). Phineas doesn't believe that there is a war going on. This is one of the things that Phineas hides and can't face. Towards the end, Phineas tells Gene that the one thing Phineas is mad about is not being able to do anything once he breaks his leg again, is that he can't go away to war....
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