Essay about John Knowles' A Separate Peace

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John Knowles' "A Separate Peace"

Gene, returns to the Devon School in New Hampshire, where he was a student with his friend Phineas 15 years ago, just as World War II began. The book goes back 15 years, to Gene's days with Phineas. On their first chance to jump off a huge tree into the river, Phineas, being the daredevil, goes first and Gene is the only one who follows. Gene is normally a conservative, conformist type person, but around Phineas, he consents to break the rules more often.

Finny is an irregularity at Devon. He is a good student and athlete, but also a charming, likeable rule-breaker. The substitute headmaster, Mr. Patch-Withers, gives a tea for their class. Mrs. Patch-Withers notices that Finny has used the
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Gene seems unconcerned for his friend.

Gene learns that one of Finny's legs had been "shattered" in the fall; Gene grows very guilty about the accident. At last, Gene is allowed to visit Finny in the infirmary. Gene learns that Finny will no longer be able to play sports; Gene cannot believe the news. Gene gets ready to tell Finny the truth; but, he doesn't get the chance, and soon, Finny is sent home to recuperate.

Summer Session ends, and Gene returns home. Finally, he has to go back to Devon. On his way, he goes to Finny's house to see how he is doing. Finny seems weak, like an invalid. Gene tells Finny that he caused the accident, and Finny denies this confession.
Gene is finally back at school, without Finny. Gene got the same room he had during the summer, but no new roommate.

Gene goes to crew practice, which is run by Quackenbush, the uniformly disliked crew captain. Quackenbush immediately challenges him; they have a fight, and both tumble into the water. Gene then quits.

Fall passes, and the war remains distant. The first snow falls, and soon Gene and the boys spend a miserable day at the railroad yard, shoveling snow. Soon, enlistment fever hits a few of the boys, especially Brinker and Gene. Gene feels that enlisting will give him a sense of purpose. But, then he goes back to his room, and finds Finny there; suddenly, he has a purpose to stay at Devon again.

Gene is surprised at Finny's sudden return; Finny looks well again. Gene