A Separate Peace : Symbols In A Separate Peace

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Symbols and Their Effects on the Characters of A Separate Peace In the novel A Separate Peace, the tree is the primary symbol used to describe the hardships, adventure, and danger of the lives of the characters. While the tree is not the only symbol used by Knowles, it is the one that Gene spends most of his time reflecting on. To Gene, the tree is “tremendous” and “a steely black steeple.” But for Finny, the tree symbolizes his downfall and eventually his death. By the end of the novel, the tree has lost its significance to Gene and has become smaller and less realistic. Another big symbol in the novel is the war. World War II was of no real meaning to Gene and his classmates when they were juniors because that is all that they did was play war. But by the time their senior year had begun, the war was real and the draft was coming for them. For Finny in particular, the war symbolized his destiny as a hero because he wanted nothing more than to be an athlete and a warrior. Another primary symbol used by Knowles is the separation between the summer and winter sessions at Devon because while the summer session was filled with laid back and innocent fun, the winter session was a dark time with preparation for war. And, the last symbol recognized is the fall of Finny from the tree on the riverbank. This fall not only symbolizes the end of childly innocent times and the beginning of war filled adulthood, but it also symbolizes the eventual death of Finny. In all, the presence
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