A Separate Peace Harmony does not exist without destruction. Out of war, approaches all that peace has to offer. In the novel, A Separate Peace, (the author, Knowles) uncovers the meaning of peace concerning the multiple branches of life. The setting takes place miles away from the battles during World War II. At an all boy high school named Devon, the two main characters Phineas and Gene become best friends. However, when Gene pushes Finny off the tree, peace takes on a different role, and continues to change throughout the story.
The title relates to the simple things in life as well as peace that may underlie evil. “A separate peace” can relate to the theme regarding Phineas and Gene. Gene’s struggle of finding his true character may be related to his own search for happiness. Gene is constantly comparing and contrasting himself to Phineas; leaving Gene to be aloof with whom he really is. His desire to be like Finny drives Gene over the edge. On impulse, Gene pushes Finny, letting him plummet on the rocks and breaking his leg. After the incident, Gene essentially finds the peace he always wanted.
He is now able to be himself, and finally come out of his best friend’s shadow. When they remain friends, Finny teaches Gene that he can achieve anything he wishes. They become teachers and supporters of one another. Gene learns that he had just been lazy, and didn’t have the motivation in him to reach his full potential. His search for a personal “separate peace” is a constant theme throughout the novel. Finny can also be seen as a “separate peace. ” He is very anti-war during the novel. He denies that World War II is actually happening. He refuses to believe that there is destruction in the world.
We specifically see this when he rejects Gene’s apology of pushing him out of the tree. Finny doesn’t believe that his own best friend could purposely hurt him. Although he ends up forgiving Gene, his refusal to believe Gene’s confession shows that Finny does accept any kind of malevolence. He has a genuine soul and simply does not comprehend why people demonstrate acts of evil. All the characters in the novel display their imperfect qualities, while Finny is seen as a charming and flawless human being. The only fault Phineas can be known for is his ignorance to destruction, evil, and war.
This illustrates Finny as a separate peace from everyone else. He enjoys all the wholesome things life brings, and is untroubled about the future. The tree referred to in the novel may also symbolize a separate peace. As the students at Devon jump from the tree, they are really jumping for their “freedom. ” It is a way for the teen boys to escape from all the stress in their lives, and a way to enjoy their youth. With WWII going on, many of the boys are waiting to enlist. They believe it is their duty to graduate and jump right into the battlefields.
But for the time being, they are looking to have fun and enjoy their leisure time. Leaping off the tree provides excitement and thrill, away from their normal schedule at Devon. Peace can be obtained as they land in the water, feeling refreshed and renewed. The kids go the tree seeking a different feeling that will make them forget about school and the war, even for just a moment. The phrase, “a separate peace” is also used as a term in the military. It applies to a nation that rejects going to war alongside its allies which are against one or more other nations.
In WWII, Russia signs a separate peace with Germany although its allies, the Triple Entente, were at war with the Central Powers, including Germany. In the novel, I think Phineas’ denial of the war refers to this as well. He declines the fact that there is a war because he does not want to take part in it if it does exist. He refuses to accept a battle between two or more enemies. This can also relate to the conflict Gene has created between the two of them. As Finny’s ally, Gene hypothetically goes to war with himself, building a competition between them.
Finny does not accept “going to war” with his best friend even after he confesses of pushing him off the tree. This expresses Finny’s call for a separate peace, remaining detached from the conflict and not allowing it to exceed. The peace carried throughout the novel is recognized in people, and actions, as well as objects. At the end of the story, it is seen as an escape from all the chaos on Earth. Peace is brought in all forms, but is interpreted differently by everyone. All humans share a sense of serenity or continue to search for it. Repeatedly, wars are fought to achieve peace.
Gene discovers his own separate peace after his battle with Finny. After Finny’s death, his inner-conflict and insecurities settled down. He struggled in a fight against himself, but ultimately won as he attained his goal which was to find his own self peace. Now, lifeless, Finny too maintained his own separate peace. When he died, he took that great amount of peace along with him. Whole peace was no longer secured at Devon once Finny and Gene met. The moment they leaped off the tree together, they each took a separate peace with them, leaving separate pieces of peace to be stumbled upon.