Essay, Research Paper: Separate Peace

Literature: World War

Free Literature: World War research papers were donated by our members/visitors and are presented free of charge for informational use only. The essay or term paper you are seeing on this page was not produced by our company and should not be considered a sample of our research/writing service. We are neither affiliated with the author of this essay nor responsible for its content. If you need high quality, fresh and competent research / writing done on the subject of Literature: World War, use the professional writing service offered by our company.

In John Knowles book A Separate Peace he communicates how the war in him was
taking its toll on him. He uses the characters in a complicated plot to show the
destructive forces of war. The characters, Gene and Finny, are the opposing
forces in a struggle between the reality of war (World War II) and a separate
peace. A peace away from the real war and the awful things that come from it.
Through their relationship, which is a struggle on both sides, Knowles
establishes the reality of war through a relationship. Gene Forrestor is
established as the force of reality. This idea is established clearly in a
speech Gene gives as the narrator of the story. “Everyone has a moment in
history which belongs particularly to him. It is the moment when his emotions
achieve their most powerful sway over him, and afterward when you say to this
person “ the world today” or “life” or “reality” he will assume that
you mean this moment, even if it is fifty years past. The world, through his
unleashed emotions, imprinted itself upon him and he carries the stamp of that
passing moment forever.” (Knowles, 32) This statement explains that Gene must
have something that is his “stamp”. This stamp defines an individual
standing up for something he believes in. The next paragraph shows that this is
true where Gene continues, “For me, this moment-four years is a moment in
history-war the war. The war was and is reality for me. I still live and think
in its atmosphere.” (Knowles, 32) Later in the same paragraph he goes on to
say: “America is not, never has been, and never will be what the songs and
poems call it, a land of plenty. Nylon, meat, gasoline, and steel are rare.
There are too many jobs and not enough workers. Money is very easy to earn but
rather hard to spend, because there isn’t very much to buy. The war will
always be fought very far away from America and it will never end. Nothing in
America stands still for very long, including the people, who are always either
leaving or on leave.” (Knowles, 32) This is what Gene stands for in the book A
Separate Peace. Gene appears to understand the reality of war and how it affects
people. Throughout the entire story Gene is used to bring the destructive
reality of war into everyday life at Devon High School where there is an attempt
to create and exist in a separate peace. There is a reality known by Gene that
is headed by Gene’s best friend, Finny. Finny has his own reality that he
creates and exists in is the separate peace spoken of earlier. Finny who is a
very athletic person, begins to create this separate peace with games. Because
Finny can’t face the reality of the real war, these games are a representation
of the war. Finny makes the rules so that he can exist in these games as an
invincible force. The first game Finny invents is “The Super Suicide of the
Summer Session.” This game consists of jumping of the limb of a tree into the
river by Devon. As the game is invented, both Finny and Gene, agree to start it
by being the first ones to jump out of the tree into a river. One time Finny
allows Gene to jump out first. This is the start of a separate peace. “We were
standing on a limb, I a little farther out than Finny. I turned to say something
else, some stalling remark, something to delay even a few seconds more, and then
I realized that in turning I had begun to lose my balance... There was a moment
of total, impersonal panic, and then Finny’s hand shot out and grabbed my arm,
and with my balance restored, the panic immediately disappeared.” (Knowles,
24) In this instance Finny saves Gene from falling out of Finny’s world and
into Gene’s reality. The idea of Gene understanding that this is Finny’s
world comes in chapter three. “Yes, he had practically saved my life. He had
also practically lost it for me. I wouldn’t of been on that d#%* limb except
for him. I wouldn’t have turned around and so lost my balance, if he hadn’t
been there. I didn’t need to fell any tremendous rush of gratitude toward
Phineas.”(Knowles, 25) This is when Gene knows he was out of his reality and
into Finny’s world, and Finny’s world could have taken his life. This game
goes on to progress into a more warlike atmosphere. Gene goes on to explain how
he and Finny signed up trainees on the spot and how they initiated them every
night. This is like the basic training and initiating of real soldiers in a war.
Finny also creates another game that substitutes for the real war: Blitzball. It
is known that this game is related to the war because a boy present during the
invention of the game, Bobby Zane says, “Let’s make it have something to do
with war.” (Knowles, 29) Finny likes this idea and goes with it. Finny goes on
to make up all kind of rules. After all of the parts of the games were invented
Gene realizes, “That he unconsciously invented a game which brought his own
athletic gifts to their highest pitch.” (Knowles, 31) “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 that they surprised even
him.” (Knowles, 31) Blitzball was made up by Finny so that he could be in
control. This is like Finny’s world of a separate peace. Finny’s reality of
war is much like the games he invents. Finny’s reality comes into making up
his own rules while eluding the real rules. In doing so no one ever really holds
Finny responsible to make him abide by the real rules. One example is when Finny
wears a pink shirt which he explains is an emblem for the bombing of Central
Europe (Knowles, 18). He explains that because he has no flag to fly for them-or
anything else related-he will wear the pink shirt. Finny avoids having to
conform to the real rules in school that day when Mr. Patch-Withers asks Finny
about it-surely because he normally disapproves of such rebellious behavior.
Finny again explains what he explained to Gene and avoids any trouble. Gene
comments, “It was hypnotism. I was beginning to see that Phineas could get
away with anything.” Further evidence of Finny’s ability to make his
world-or separate peace-comes on the following page. Mr. Patch-Withers offers
the “traditional term tea to the Upper Middle Class” (Knowles, 18). While at
this event Finny explains all of his thoughts about the bombing of central
Europe. While doing so he poses a question to others, “I think we ought to
bomb the daylights out of them, as long as we don’t hit any women or children
or old people, don’t you?” He continues, “Or hospitals . . .And Naturally
no schools. Or churches.” Finny doesn’t fully understand the impact of war
on people, he doesn’t understand that war kills people physically and mentally
and he doesn’t understand that it affects everyone that has a close
relationship with the it (not including himself). It affects women, children,
old people, hospitals, churches and schools. Finny has created a false reality
here and it is emphasized even more on the next page when he says he believes
that, “the school is involved in everything that happens in the war, it’s
all the same was and the same world” (Knowles, 20). The truth is that the war
is partially involved in the war, but not the way Finny believes it is. Finny
has created a separate peace at Devon that he substitutes for the real war.
Meanwhile, Gene understands that the war is being fought on is, “All foreign
lands... inaccessible except to servicemen; they are vague distant, and sealed
off as though behind a curtain of plastic.”(Greiling) This passage shows us
that Gene may of not fought a war first hand and doesn’t understand its true
destruction bought does understand it to his best knowledge. This is unlike
Finny who creates his own war in Devon. This is Finny’s separate peace because
it lacks the real characteristics of the real war. The point in the book when
everything turns is when Finny announced “Leper was going to take his first
leap.” This was not the first time that Leper had said this, but Gene went
along anyway. When they arrived Finny announced that Gene and him were going to
make the jump together. This is the first time that the two different realities
are set next to each other. While on the limb Gene “Jounced the limb.”
(Knowles, 52) “Finny lost his balance and fell violently and shattered one of
his legs while Gene jumps with unthinking sureness. Here we see that when the
two realities compared side by side. Finny’s falls and shatters while Gene’s
succeeds with sureness. ”(Ellis, 313) After falling out of the tree Finny’s
way of creating a separate peace was finished. Finny will never be the same
after this. “Peace has deserted Devon” (Knowles, 64) this is the title of
chapter six. Finny isn’t present at Devon at the beginning of the fall
session. This is indicating the lack of peace; the lack of peace the school has
learned to know when Finny was present. With the lack of Finny’s reality the
reality of war begins to seep into Devon. As school goes on winter comes around,
and two hundred boys are recruited to shovel snow off the railroad yards as part
of the war effort. Then later on in the same chapter Brinker announces, “I’m
giving it up, I’m going to enlist. Tommorow.” This is just the beginning of
war starting to seep into Devon. “Five of the younger teachers were missing,
gone into the war. Mr. Pike had come in his Naval ensign’s uniform. . .”
With all of this happening Finny is not going to give up his reality without a
fight. Finny found out that Gene had signed up as an assistant to a team and
informs Gene “if I can’t play sports, you’re going to play them for me”
(Knowles, 77). Gene doesn’t go against this because of the great friendship he
shares with Finny. That and he might be feeling bad for what he has done to
Finny. To try to resurrect Finny’s separate peace, he tells Gene,” You’re
going to be the big star now.” Gene is hesitant to take this on and goes on to
explain that sports didn’t seem as important to him with the war on. Finny
responds to this, “Have you swallowed all that war stuff. . . there isn’t
any war.” This is the point at which Gene comes to realize that Finny
doesn’t believe there is a real war going on. Finny goes on to make Gene do
what he can no longer do: compete physically. He does this in order to keep the
idea of the separate peace alive. The idea of Finny not understanding the war is
emphasized more when Finny tells Gene that he is going to train him for the
Olympics in 1944. Gene responds by telling Finny “there isn’t going to be
any Olympics in ‘44. That’s only a couple years away. The war-” Finny’s
response is, “Leave your fantasy life out of this. We’re grooming you for
the Olympics, pal, in 1944.” Finny openly defies the idea that there is a war
going on and that it is affecting people around the world. The 1944 Olympics do
not occur. This is the beginning of the end for Finny’s separate peace and the
events that follow bring out the undeniable reality of the war. The reality of
war is on them when they receive a telegram from Leper saying, “I have escaped
and need help. I am at Christmas location. You understand. No need to risk
address here. My safety depends on you coming at once.” Your Best Friend,
Elwin Leper Lepellier Gene goes to visit Leper and finds he has changed. The
first thing he notices is Leper’s left side of his lip lifting involuntarily.
Gene comes to find that Leper abandoned the Army after realizing that he was
going to receive a Section Eight any ways (a Section Eight is a discharge
because of a lack of psychological control). It is found that Leper does appear
to have mental illness and has turned into a violent person who is very
angry-something that Leper definitely wasn’t before he was in the war. Gene
brings the news of Leper’s situation back to the school to lay out the
undeniable confirmation of the war. Leper has proven to us that there is a war
and that it can kill the body and spirit. Eventually there is a trial to find
out the truth about Finny falling out of the tree. The trial never found out if
Gene made the limb bounce, but there was a deeper meaning in the trial. When the
boys were arguing about the truth Finny says, “I just don’t care. Never
mind!” (Knowles, 169) Gene then narrates, “These words shocked Phineas into
awareness.” (Knowles, 169) Finny then runs out of the room and then falls down
the stairs. Finny’s separate peace is shattered along with his leg. Finny then
dies in a simple operation; Devon’s separate peace is then shattered. With out
Finny’s separate peace Devon comes to the reality of war is upon them. Devon
sets up a shop for making parachutes. This goes to show that indeed, Gene’s
reality is the truth: the war is very real and very destructive. (Ellis, 317)
“John Knowles communicates what war really is. He uses complex characters in a
very complicated plot in order to convey the harsh, sad, cruel, destructive
forces of war. Gene and Finny’s relationship that includes the opposition
illustrates this fact. Their relationship is used by Knowles to establish the
terrible reality of war in all of its essence.” (Greiling)
Good or bad? How would you rate this essay?
Help other users to find the good and worthy free term papers and trash the bad ones.
Like this term paper? Vote & Promote so that others can find it

Get a Custom Paper on Literature: World War:

Free papers will not meet the guidelines of your specific project. If you need a custom essay on Literature: World War: , we can write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written papers will pass any plagiarism test, guaranteed. Our writing service will save you time and grade.

Related essays:

Bombshells exploding all around, destruction everywhere, civilians running for their lives... total devastation. This is exactly what Kurt Vonnegut encountered in the fire-bombing of Dresden during Wo...
Literature: World War / Slaughter House Five
Explore the use of "So it goes." Is it to be viewed as resignation to the horrors of death? Is it Billy's response? Vonnegut's? Yours? “So it goes” is Billy Pilgrim’s theory regarding death....
Literature: World War / Slaughter House Five
Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time, and so is Slaughterhouse Five. Novel follows Billy's "unhinged" life. If I write every hop, skip, and jump, the summary would be as complicated as the book....
Literature: World War / Survivors Tale And Spiegelman
There is an old saying that a picture says a thousand words. Art Spiegelman’s series Maus: A Survivors Tale proves this saying to a tee. Added to the dialogue, a million possibilities arise. The serie...
Literature: World War / This Side Of Paradise
This Side of Paradise chronicles the life of Amory Blaine from his childhood up through his early twenties. Born the son of a wealthy and sophisticated woman, Beatrice, Amory travels the country with ...