A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Perhaps the most interesting front in any war or any battle is the home front.

A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, explores how a war affects life at home, and how war affects the teenagers who are preparing to enter it. Set over the course of a year at Devon School-- a New England preparatory academy high in prestige-- the book seeks to show that the lives most affected by a war may not be the soldiers, but the citizens of a country who might become soldiers.

The book describes the life of a number of students at Devon. Beginning with the Summer Quarter previous to their senior year, A Separate Peace specifically follows the lives of two roommates: Gene and Phineas. On the surface, Gene is the quiet scholar: an introvert who would like to do his school work and live in peace. Finny is the boisterous athlete: energetic, young, and free spirited.

But what they end up learning from each other surpasses these stock characterizations.

Gene lives with Finny, but it is almost as if he?s watching him with a telescope from Mars. He lives on the outside of Finny?s world-- fascinated by the things contained within it. During his time at Devon, Gene lived in fear, as he describes early in the book on page two. Gene was envious of Finny as shown on page eighteen when he realizes that Finny can get away with anything.

It is this envy that leads Gene?s paranoia of Finny. I think that Gene had never had a friend as close as Finny-- never knew a person who was so willing to aid him. Because of this he became a suspicious and jealous ?friend? that conspired against the person who was farthest from being his enemy. Over the course...