Essay on Loss of Innocence

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In A Separate Peace, John Knowles carries the theme of the inevitable loss of innocence throughout the entire novel. Several characters in the novel sustain both positive and negative changes, resulting from the change of the peaceful summer sessions at Devon to the reality of World War II. While some characters embrace their development through their loss of innocence, others are at war with themselves trying to preserve that innocence. Knowles foreshadows the boys’ loss of innocence through the war, and their constant jumps from the tree. While getting ready for the war the boys practice and show off their skills on the tree by the Devon River. These jumps are done for fun yet the boys see them as a routine, something that has …show more content…
“But I no longer needed this vivid false identity . . . I felt, a sense of my own real authority and worth, I had many new experiences and I was growing up “(156). Gene’s self-identity battle ends and he finds his real self. Gene’s developing maturity is also shown when he tells the truth about Leper. His growing resentment against having to mislead people helps Gene become a better person. When Brinker asks about Leper, Gene wants to lie and tell him he is fine but his resentment is stronger than him. Instead Gene comes out and tells the truth that Leper has gone crazy. By pushing Finny out of the tree, crippling him for life and watching him die; Gene kills a part of his own character, his essential purity. Throughout the whole novel Gene strives to be Finny, but by the end he forms a character of his own. Gene looks into his own heart and realizes the evil. “. . . it seemed clear that wars were not made by generations and their special stupidities, but that wars were made instead by something ignorant in the human heart” (201). He grasps that the creation of personal problems creates wars. Gene comes to acknowledge Finny’s uniqueness and his idealism and greatly admires his view of the world. He allows Finny’s influence to change him and eliminates the self-ignorance. At Finny’s funeral Gene feels that he buries a part of himself, his innocence. “I could not escape a feeling

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