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A Separate Peace “It wasn’t the cider which made me surpass myself, it was this liberation we had torn from the gray encroachments of 1943, the escape we had concocted, this afternoon of momentary, illusory, special and a separate peace,” (128) reflects Gene Forrester after his carefree outing at the winter carnival. John Knowles in a Separate Peace uses an unusual plot to give the reader an illusionary sense of peace and security, found only at Devon, during a time of great war, through isolating specific idealistic moments from the sin and evil that encompasses them.
The author stresses certain events or moments in the story to deepen the illusion of peace and tranquility taking the reader further away from the real truth. Knowles uses Finny’s superior leadership skills to invent a summer game called Blitzball and conduct the winter carnival. Both of which were tools describing ideal moments used to distract the reader from reality that there is a battle being fought. Another idyllic event Knowles uses to his advantage was when Gene found his rhythm, ”Buoyed up, I forgot my usual feeling of routine self-pity when working out, I lost myself, oppresses mind along with aching body; all entanglements were shed, I broke into the clear.” (112) Utilizing this the author was able to divert the reader’s attention to the 1944 Olympic games and fool the audience into a false sense about the war.
Not only actions mislead the audience but the feelings of the students as well. Mainly because of the inseparable bond between Gene and Finny,” I hope your having a pretty good time here. I know I kind of dragged you away at the point of the gun, but after all you can’t come
by yourself, and in this teen-age period in life the proper person is your best pal.” (40) From this Finny formed an idealistic bond between him and Gene. Using this high to present a low, Knowles hides the evil truth going through Gene’s mind about his friend, thus enabling him to jounce Phineas from the tree without thinking.
The author illustrated his theme by placing certain words strategically in the novel to convince the reader that there was still peace. For instance Knowles uses the word Eden to give the audience a false picturesque landscape that resembled the watery shores.
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John Knowles uses one of the many themes found in this book to give the audience a false sense of peace by using Devon and the students in it, to distract the reader from the bloody truth found only in war. John Knowles with A Separate Peace gained a lot of respect as a writer; not having created a book for so long will the tradition continue? Will Devon and the characters associated with it live on?