Loss of Innocence in A Separate Peace
In the human nature, naive ignorance of the world's imperfections eventually yields to the recognition that the world does contain hatred and violence. John Knowles places his novel A Separate Peace in situations which necessitate this emotional transformation. The characters become increasingly aware of the nature of the world. In addition, symbols help show the interrelation of ideas and events as they appear in Gene's subconscious mind. In this novel, setting, character, and symbols develop the theme of loss of innocence.
Setting expatiates the theme of loss of innocence. For example, the four major characters in this story are sixteen and seventeen years old, which is the age when teenagers prepare to end their childhood and become adults. Also, the Devon school, where the story takes place, is a place where boys make the transition to full adulthood, and so this setting shows more clearly the boys' own growth. Finally, World War II, which in 1942 is raging in Europe, forces these teenage boys to grow up fast; during their seventeenth year they must evaluate everything that the war means to them and decide whether to take an active ...
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...nature. Finally, the tree off which Finny and Gene jump represents the Tree of Knowledge; jumping from the tree is against the rules, and in doing so the boys symbolically accept the loss of their innocence as Adam and Eve did by eating of the forbidden fruit. Symbols certainly convey the theme of loss of innocence.
In John Knowles' novel A Separate Peace, the theme of loss of innocence is skillfully developed through setting, character, and symbols. This story simply details a young man's entering the adult world as all children do. Everyone suffers loss of innocence.
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