The Reality of War in John Knowles' A Separate Peace Essay

The Reality of War in John Knowles' A Separate Peace Essay

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The Reality of War in John Knowles' A Separate Peace


In his book A Separate Peace John Knowles communicates what war really is. He uses a number of complex characters in a very complicated plot in order to convey the harsh, sad, cruel, destructive forces of war. The Characters Gene and Finny are used as opposing forces in a struggle between that cold reality of war-that is World War II in this story-and a separate peace. A peace away from the real war and all of the terrible things that come with it. Through their relationship, that is a struggle on both sides from the beginning, Knowles establishes the reality of war in all of its essence.

Gene Forrester is established as the force of reality which is the war. This idea is established clearly in a lengthy speech Gene gives as the narrator of the story in Chapter Three:

Everyone has a moment in history which belongs particularly to him. It is the moment when his emotions achieve their most powerful sway over him, and afterward when you say to this person "the world today" or "life" or "reality" he will assume that you mean this moment, even if it is fifty years past. The world, through his unleashed emotions, imprinted itself upon him, and he carries the stamp of that passing moment forever. (32)

This statement explains that Gene must have something that is his "stamp." This stamp appears to define an individual-exemplifying what he stands for. It is found that this is true in the next paragraph where Gene continues, "For me, this moment-four years is a moment in history-war the war. The war was and is reality for me. I still live and think in its atmosphere" (32). Later in the same paragraph he goes on to say:

America is not, never has been, and never will be wha...


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Weber, Ronald. "Narrative Method in A Separate Peace." Studies in Short Fiction
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