A Separate Peace

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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In many works of literature there are often secrets and deceptions involved; either direct lies or unspoken truths. Often these lies and deceptions are meant to hide a crime or violent act. This is the case in John Knowles's A Separate Peace (1960). In contrast, The Importance of Being Earnest (1990), by Oscar Wilde the lies and deceptions are a type of game.

In A Separate Peace, Gene was involved in a deception to hide the fact that he pushed Finny off the tree. The setting takes place in the summer of 1942 at Devon School, a boys' boarding school in New Hampshire. While daring each other to jump from a tree in a cold river, Gene startles the limb Phineas is standing on. Phineas falls on the river bank shattering several of his bones and later on ceasing his athletic carrer. One of the questions whether the fall was an accident or an intentional act on the part of Gene.

Although Gene and Finny were good friends, Gene was jealous of Finny's personality, his ability to win over both students and teachers and the fact that Finny was the best athlete at school. This jealousy was hidden from others and possibility even from himself until that day when Gene, almost without thinking, pushed Finny from the tree. Gene keeps his rivalry a secret from Finny for some time, "'I tried, you remember? I reached out, but you were gone, you went down through those little branches underneath, and when I reached out there was only air.'" (Knowles 57) Gene tries to confess to Finny that he was involved in the accident but is never actually able to do so, "'But I don't see why you should look so personally shocked. You look like it happened to you or...