A Separate Peace Essay

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This memo is in regard to the role that World War II had on the characters in the novel, A Separate Peace by John Knowles. I would like to discuss how the war slowly intruded upon life at Devon and how it eventually dominated life at Devon. The relationship that this story has to the title of the book will also be conversed about. In the first few chapters of the book there are many examples of how the students at Devon were affected or not affected at all by the war. For example, Gene and Finny spent the summer of 1942 climbing and jumping off a tree that the upperclassmen had used it to train for the war. Finny said that they were doing it to train for the war, but really just wanted to do it for fun. This is especially true because the grade above them were at the age where they could be drafted, however Gene and Finny were not. Another example is that it was against the rules to be climbing the tree, and Finny, Gene, and their friends got caught one day. Since the boys were only 16, the teachers knew that this group were not at risk for being drafted yet. On page 23-24 Gene says, “I think we reminded them of what peace was like, we boys of sixteen. We were registered with no draft board, we had taken no physical examinations.” As you can see, both the students and the faculty were comforted with the fact that this group was not at risk for going to war. As the summer of 1942 went on, the group of boys formed a group called the, “Super Suicide Society.” They would go to the tree and jump off throughout the summer and were all aware that the war was going on, but none of them felt truly impacted by it. It almost did not feel to the boys that there was a war going on because they were having so much fun. The t... ... middle of paper ... ... not think of this incidence as a major deal. When Gene went to see Finny, Finny confessed that he was in denial that there was a war going on all along because he wanted to enlist, but could not because of his leg. After Finny went into surgery, his doctor broke the news to Gene that Finny had died. The doctor warned Gene that this was not the last time that he was going to see a close friend die. On June 1, 1943 right before graduation, Gene watched the war take over the Far common, which was a building on campus. Knowles explains how when Gene walked through it that it was becoming more and more unrecognizable and looked like an army base. This is the point where the war finally dominates life at Devon. Even though all the boys did their best to create their own separate peace, it was bound that the war would eventually take over the boys and the school.
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