Separate Peace

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 reality of war (World War II) and a separate
peace. A peace away from the real war and the awful things that come from it.

Through their relationship, which is a struggle on both sides, Knowles
establishes the reality of war through a relationship. Gene Forrestor is
established as the force of reality. This idea is established clearly in a
speech Gene gives as the narrator of the story. "Everyone has a moment in
history which belongs particularly to him. It is the moment when his emotions
achieve their most powerful sway over him, and afterward when you say to this
person " the world today" or "life" or "reality" he will assume that
you mean this moment, even if it is fifty years past. The world, through his
unleashed emotions, imprinted itself upon him and he carries the stamp of that
passing moment forever." (Knowles, 32) This statement explains that Gene must
have something that is his "stamp". This stamp defines an individual
standing up for something he believes in. The next paragraph shows that this is
true where Gene continues, "For me, this moment-four years is a moment in
history-war the war. The war was and is reality for me. I still live and think
in its atmosphere." (Knowles, 32) Later in the same paragraph he goes on to
say: "America is not, never has been, and never will be what the songs and
poems call it, a land of plenty. Nylon, meat, gasoline, and steel are rare.

There are too many jobs and not enough workers. Money is very easy to earn but
rather hard to spend, because there isn't very much to buy. The war will
always be fought very far away from America and it will never end. Nothing in

America stands still for very long, including the people, who are always either
leaving or on leave." (Knowles, 32) This is what Gene stands for in the book A

Separate Peace. Gene appears to understand the reality of war and how it affects
people. Throughout the entire story Gene is used to bring the destructive
reality of war into everyday life at Devon High School where there is an attempt
to create and exist in a separate peace. There is a reality known by Gene that
is headed by Gene's best friend, Finny. Finny has his own reality that he
creates and exists in is the separate peace spoken of earlier. Finny who is a
very athletic person, begins to create this separate peace with games. Because

Finny can't face the reality of the real war, these games are a representation
of the war. Finny makes the rules so that he can exist in these games as an
invincible force. The first game Finny invents is "The Super Suicide of the

Summer Session." This game consists of jumping of the limb of a tree into the
river by Devon. As the game is invented, both Finny and Gene, agree to start it
by being the first ones to jump out of the tree into a river. One time Finny
allows Gene to jump out first. This is the start of a separate peace. "We were
standing on a limb, I a little farther out than Finny. I turned to say something
else, some stalling remark, something to delay even a few seconds more, and then

I realized that in turning I had begun to lose my balance... There was a moment
of total, impersonal panic, and then Finny's hand shot out and grabbed my arm,
and with my balance restored, the panic immediately disappeared." (Knowles,

24) In this instance Finny saves Gene from falling out of Finny's world and
into Gene's reality. The idea of Gene understanding that this is Finny's
world comes in chapter three. "Yes, he had practically saved my life. He had
also practically lost it for me. I wouldn't of been on that d#%* limb except
for him. I wouldn't have turned around and so lost my balance, if he hadn't
been there. I didn't need to fell any tremendous rush of gratitude toward

Phineas."(Knowles, 25) This is when Gene knows he was out of his reality and
into Finny's world, and Finny's world could