A separate piece

This essay has a total of 1708 words and 6 pages.

A separate piece

A. Title and Author - A Separate Peace by John Knowles

B. Story Setting - The story starts off at the Devon school, which is a prep school in New
England at 1958. But the rest of the story takes place through a flashback of his days when he
was a student at Devon during 1943.

C. Main Characters - Gene Forrester - Gene is the narrator of the novel and appears at two
different time periods: as a middle-aged man re-visiting Devon fifteen years after being a student
there, and, for the majority of the novel, as a sixteen and seventeen-year-old student during World
War II. The novel is written in the past tense, and we assume that Gene's narration is triggered by
his re-visitation of his old school when he is thirty-two. And although the older narrator seems
long past the emotional turmoil that marked his schoolboy days, the events of his years at Devon
are told as if they were occurring in the present, as if our narrator were still sixteen years old. The
Gene that we encounter for the bulk of the novel is, like many of his classmates, at a liminal stage
in his life-the adolescence between boyhood and manhood. This transition is further emphasized
by the war, Gene being in the final years of freedom before the ravages of a world war can legally
claim him. Outwardly Gene is one of the top students in his class and a talented athlete. These
traits earn him respect on campus and, most importantly, the friendship of Phineas, whom Gene
respects more than any of his fellow classmates. But inwardly, Gene is plagued by the darker
forces of human nature, forces that prey upon the turbulence of adolescence. Gene's admiration
and love for Finny is balanced and marred by his fierce jealousy of him, by a deep insecurity in
himself, and, because of his insecurity, a need to compete with and "defeat" his friend at all costs.
Gene's internal emotional battles are the major source of conflict and tension in the novel.
Phineas - Called Finny by his classmates, Phineas is Gene's closest companion at Devon and, for
our narrator, the central focus of the novel. Finny is five feet eight and a half inches tall and
weighs one hundred fifty pounds. Indeed, Finny is the superhuman wonder of athletics and
physical harmony at Devon, far surpassing any competition from his classmates, Gene included.
What is more, Finny's physical prowess matches that of his personality-he is a charismatic,
good-natured, and persuasive young man. Finny finds joy outside of authority and is described by
Gene as "a student who combined a calm ignorance of the rules with a winning urge to do good,
who seemed to love the school truly and deeply, and never more than when he was breaking the
regulations". Although not as strong a student as Gene, Phineas is not consumed by jealousy and
the need to compete with his friend, which exposes Gene's own insecurity. After breaking his leg,
however, Finny is faced with his own personal struggle: the bitterness of being a cripple and
attempting to live in a world where sports and enlistment in the army are no longer a possibility.
And, of course, Phineas must also confront the fact that his life-altering injury was caused by
someone he considered, and still must try to consider, to be his best friend
Elwin "Leper" Lepellier - Leper is the dreamy, eccentric, unathletic loner at Devon. Rather than
prepare for or become involved with the war, Leper would rather collect snails or search for
beaver dams. Leper's role increases in significance when, to everyone's surprise; he decides to
enlist, making the war seem even more unreal for Gene. But Leper's quiet and quirky personality
prove to be completely incompatible with army life, and he escapes from his training camp. The
post-army Leper is no longer his calm, dreamy self, but rather an emotionally volatile, terrified
young man. His involvement in the army has forced him to emerge from what Gene dubs his
"protective cloud of vagueness."
Brinker Hadley - The last character to undergo development in the novel, Brinker is introduced at
the beginning of Winter Session as an industrious and organized student, a class leader and head
of many student organizations. Brinker is responsible for the two interrogations into Finny's
accident, once immediately following his fall from the tree and once, a more serious trial, at the
end of the novel, before Finny re-breaks his leg. Although vocal about his desire to enlist, Brinker
doesn't dare do so without the company of his classmates, unlike Leper. And when he finally
involves himself with war activities, he is sure to keep himself as far from actual combat as
possible. Over the course of the year, Brinker becomes disillusioned and less active in the school
organizations. This, we learn at the novel's end, is due to a strong resentment of his father, a
World War I veteran and war fanatic who pressures his son into combat
D. Story Summary - The Story begins with Gene walking through the Devon school outside and
reminiscing about his days at the school. The year is 1958 and soon it goes into a flashback during
his school days during 1943. It begins with him and his best friend Phineas climbing a tree and
daring each other to jump off it. The story continues to describe the personality of Phineas and
Gene Forrester through a sequence of events during their everyday life at the Devon prep school.
It continues until chapter 4 when Gene shakes a tree limb when they're climbing and Phineas falls
off and breaks his leg. Phineas does not know Gene shook the branch and Gene does not tell him
until later and struggles with this throughout the novel. Gene's life at the school continues through
more school semesters as Phineas leaves the school to live at his home. He eventually comes back
later on in the story. He comes back by chapter 8 as Gene continues to struggle with telling him
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