Friendship in Knowles' A Separate Peace

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A Separate Peace - Friendship

We have all experienced friendship in our lives; some of these bonds were lasting and others were not. A Separate Peace is a book that deals with the friendship of high school boys. These boys attend an all-boy’s school called Devon School. It is said that: "Devon is sometimes considered the most beautiful school in New England." "Devon was both scholarly and very athletic." Devon is where Gene Forrester, Phineas (Finny) and Elwin (Leper) Lepellier attend school. Author John Knowles sets the story during World War II. This time period makes the boys have to think about which branch of the military they want to enlist in. The main focuses of this book are war, conformity or agreement, and friendship. War is a theme because throughout the book WWII encroaches on Finny and Gene’s separate peace. Conformity is a theme because Finny puts constant pressure on all the boys especially Gene to do rebellious things. They give into peer pressure and do things like jumping from trees even though that broke the rules. They wanted to go along with the crowd, and Finny represents the crowd. Friendship is the most visible theme in the book and since friendship is based on mutual need, Finny and Gene are best friends. Finny has things that Gene needs and Gene has things Finny needs. I am going to explain the meaning of a separate peace to Leper Lepellier, Phineas, and Gene Forrester.

When we first meet Leper, he is one of the boys standing at the base of the jumping tree. He is refusing to jump from the tree into the river. He is bidding, "Bidding for an ally." Leper would like to fit in by jumping from the tree, but Leper has his own separate peace so he doesn’t need to jump from the tree. He says he will make the initiation jump to join the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session but he never does. When the other boys are shoveling snow off train tracks to help a train with soldiers get to the Army Base this "really brings the war home." Instead of helping the other boys with the war effort, Leper goes cross country skiing to Beaver Dam. Leper does this to get a separate peace from the reality of war. Although Leper is the first to enlist in the army, he receives a section eight discharge.
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