A Separate Peace Study Guide

A Separate Peace Study Guide

Original title:
A Separate Peace

John Knowles wrote “A Separate Peace” in 1959. It is a story about many stories. There’s a little bit of war, patriotism, growing up difficulties, morals, and breaking the rules in the text. If one had to summarize the book in one sentence it would be a novel about a challenging process of growing up being locked up in a foster home with a shadow of World War II on its perfectly green lawns.

The novel continues the plot of author's earlier work called “Phineas”. The protagonist of the story, Gene Forrester, dreads to return to the places that evoke painful memories, one of them is a place where his friend Phineas fell off the tree. Based on his own experiences the author arrives at a sad conclusion that growing up begins with changing a perspective where people that surround you become potential enemies. And it's in the process of fighting these potential enemies that human nature develops anger, discontent with oneself, and thirst for seeking self-fulfillment in the failures of others.

The main character actually finds a way out and escapes this seemingly eminent outcome, but the price he has to pay for escaping is too much. And as it always happens it’s the other people that have to pay this price.

“A Separate Peace” is divided into two parts: the summer and the fall. The change of seasons characterizes the change in writing style. The reader is taken from the last real daybreak to the first real decline of the day. Gene has trouble enjoying the carelessness of the last summer, he is 17 and the change in his belief system sets in.

He is concerned with equality between him and his friend and finally arrives at a conclusion that there’s no equality in a grown-up world and in an imaginary fight for the place in the sun he betrays his friend. This “grown-up” reflex of him becomes fatal…

"A Separate Peace" is a great story about friendship, coming of age, betrayal and devastating guilt. It deserves not only to be part of any school program but also be read and reread by adult readers as well.

New Essays

A Separate Peace: Gene Forrester

Gene Forrester's difficult journey towards maturity and the adult world is a main focus of the novel, A Separate Peace, by John Knowles. Gene's journey begins the moment he pushes Phineas from the tree and the process continues until he visits the tree fifteen years later. Throughout this...

A Separate Peace Short Essay 3

Most stories' titles give readers some insight of what the story will be about. This important concept is seen in the novel, A Separate Peace, written by John Knowles. In general the setting is its own separate peace. There are also specific examples of when characters in the novel try to create...

A Separate Peace Essay 8

Nathan Gourley Pd2 4/25/00 In John Knowles book A Separate Peace he communicates how the war in him was taking its toll on him. He uses the characters in a complicated plot to show the destructive forces of war. The characters, Gene and Finny, are the opposing forces in a struggle between the...

Separate Peace Summary

A Separate Peace Gene Forrester is a quiet, intellectual student at Devon School in New Hampshire. During the Summer Session of 1942, he becomes close friends with his daredevil roommate Finny, who has a talent for getting away with mischief through his sincere, disarming charisma. Finny prods...

See all essays