The Timeless Battle
Are all people born with some unknown evil inside them or does the world just slowly corrupt the innocent as they mature. In the novel A Separate Peace, the author, John Knowles uses a dual perspective on certain characters and events throughout the novel to help support the books main theme; the loss of innocence through growth into maturity. One example of this technique is seen through the comparison between the two rivers running on the Devon campus. "The Devon River represents goodness, beauty, even purity" (Mellard 58) while the "Naguamsett, associated with winter, suggests everything contrary to the spirit of Devon: it is ugly, saline, fringed with marsh,' and it is governed by unimaginable factors'" (Mellard 58). The dualistic symbolism of the two rivers is seen through the contrasting personalities of Gene and Finny, the struggle between war and peace and the conflicting seasons of summer and winter which help to support the theme involving the timeless battle of good versus evil which. The biggest counterpoint in the novel, Finny and Gene, are personality-wise, equal to the two rivers.
The contrasting qualities of the Naguamsett and Devon rivers help to show the reader that the personalities of Finny and Gene are meant to be foils. Through descriptions of the two rivers and the events that happen at each one, the author makes it clear that the Devon represents Finny while Gene is portrayed by the Naguamsett. In the literary analysis, Counterpoint, James M. Mellard supports this with descriptions of the boys that are quite similar to the descriptions of the two rivers when he writes, "And where Finny is the essence of
peace,' freedom, courage and selflessness, Gene, until he becomes, as it were, a part of Finny, is swayed by some ignorance; inside him and trapped by his own guilt and fear and egotism" (Mellard 60). The reader cannot help but relate this back to the theme, good versus evil, and therefore automatically...
Cited: Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. New York. Scribner, 2003.
Mellard, James M. "Counterpoint." Readings on A Separate Peace. Ed. Jill Karson. San
Diego. Greenhaven Press, 1999: pages 58-60.
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