A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

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The quote, “Ignorance is bliss,” by Thomas Gray is a seemingly adequate description of the lives of Gene, Finny, and Leper until they are all roughly jolted out of their fantasy world and brought back to reality. In A Separate Peace, John Knowles does an acceptable job of showing how disillusionment can greatly impact and, thus, change the lives of people. The book showcases the cycle of disillusionment and the ramifications it implies. Throughout the book, we see Gene, Leper, and Finny’s views on the world change. This all culminates in Gene being elevated to a higher level of understanding of the world and seeing the truth about Devon and the war. The illusions created by Finny and Leper are also taken on by Gene, and he, in turn, shares in their disillusionment. Overall, disillusionment is a part of life and often serves as a tool to help many people grow and learn from the past.

For Finny and Gene, the summer session at Devon was a time of blissful happiness and a time where they allowed themselves to become utterly overtaken by their own illusions. The summer session was the complete embodiment of peace and freedom, and Gene saw Devon as a haven of peace. To them, the war was light years away and was almost like a dream than an actual event. At Devon, it was hard for them to imagine that war could even exist. Finny and Gene forged the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session and acted out in the most wild and boisterous ways. Missing dinner or being absent from school for days to go to the beach did not even earn them a reprimand. “I think we reminded them of what peace was like, we boys of sixteen....We were careless and wild, and I suppose we could be thought of as a sign of the life the war was being fought to prese...

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...couldn’t see anyone as his enemy. Even Gene had his own enemy to kill, “I never killed anybody and I never developed an intense level of hatred for the enemy. Because my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there. Only Phineas never was afraid, only Phineas never hated anyone (Knowles 196).”

To conclude, disillusionment played a sizeable role in the lives of Finny, Gene, and Leper. The source of their disillusionment stemmed from their dreams, ideas, and hopes that were never realized. Disillusionment is a natural and crucial part of life as it allows us to learn new things and discover new ideas. Every experience teaches us something new and helps us progress as people. The most important aspect of this book is disillusionment because, as George Santayana said, “Wisdom comes by disillusionment.”
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