A Separate Piece, By John Knowles Essay

A Separate Piece, By John Knowles Essay

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In John Knowles’ novel, A Separate Piece, the main Character, Gene Forrester, has to learn to become friends with his hazardous roommate, Phineas, at his school, Devon, in New Hampshire. The novel is affected by a number of changes, however the largest and most significant change is the change in seasons. In Thomas C. Foster’s novel, How to read literature like a Professor, chapter twenty explains the significance of the seasons. Foster states that, “Summer [symbolizes] adulthood and romance and fulfillment and passion,” while, “ winter [symbolizes] old age and resentment and death.” John Knowles’ book A Separate Peace, all aspects of Summer, Fall, and Winter are excellently represented as explained in Thomas C. Foster’s novel, How to read literature like a Professor.
As the novel opens, Gene is visiting his old school, Devon, and looking back at his time there, bringing back nostalgia filled memories. The story then transforms in a sort of flashback from when Gene went to Devon, in 1942. The flashback begins in the summer session at Devon. This time was freer than the harsher winter session. During the Summer session, the students, with the lack of teacher supervision, could be more childish and carefree. The students could jump from the tree, a task which usually is part of a “physical hardening regimen." This jump from the tree signifies the readiness for fighting in the war and adulthood. Without a doubt, Knowles has the boys jump from the tree during the summer session because the season of summer symbolizes adulthood therefore furthering the point that Gene and Finny are becoming adults. Jumping out of the tree also symbolizes the “summer romance” for the war, as many young boys had these rose filled thoughts of going off ...


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... of the correlation of death and winter. Knowles is a cookie cutter example of what Foster states that winter stands for, as he incorporates all elements in perfectly.
John Knowles’ novel, A Separate Peace, is a perfect example of seasonal symbolism as shown in Thomas C. Foster’s book, How to read literature like a Professor. The twentieth chapter of Forster’s novel explains, “Summer [represents] adulthood and romance and fulfillment and passion,” while, “ winter [symbolizes] old age and resentment and death.” Knowles uses the winter season to kill off Finny and show the mutual resentment between Gene and Leper. Additionally, he uses Autumn to show Finny’s physical decline. Knowles also shows the transformation into adulthood, romance for the war, and the passion of fighting and being an adult. Knowles perfectly uses the symbolism associated with many of the seasons.

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