Separate Peace Research Paper

1 January 2017

A Separate Peace,” John Knowles once said, “Looking back now across fifteen years I could see with great clarity the fear I had lived in, which must mean that in the interval I had succeeded in a very important undertaking: I must have made my escape from it” (Knowles 10). The “fear” mentioned previously, is a result of the times Knowles lived in, a time of a war, which had even affected his comfortable life at a private school. A Separate Peace,” by John Knowles, was influenced by his life experience at his time spent at Exeter Academy, and the ongoing war, World War II. The period of time John Knowles spent at Exeter Academy influenced the execution of his novel, “A Separate Peace. ” Several real life events, objects and people made their way into a complicated web of friendship at the Devon Academy. For example, the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session, first mentioned on page 51, in chapter four of the novel, was a real society.

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In an article done by Bernard Carragher, Knowles admits that there was a Super Suicide Society, and that he was part of it, “Knowles also admits there was a Super Suicide Society, but there were no broken legs or deaths. “In fact, I was the one that got a serious cut on my foot and it was I who was hobbling around all summer on crutches. . . ” says Knowles. ” In the novel, the young men create a Super Suicide Society, and it is run by Finney.

In order to get in, you must go through initiation, which was jumping of the tree branch by the river, the boys even continue to jump out of it every night, justifying it by saying that they were “Preparing for the war,” (Knowles 22). The main characters are actually based off of real people as well; John Heyl (Phineas) and Parker Stevenson (Gene Forrester). “The story is of two roommates- the quiet, intellectual Gene (Parker Stevenson) and the outgoing, brilliantly athletic Finney (John Heyl) – at Devon (i. e. Exeter) during the crucial summer of ’42, trying to establish a eace away from the furor of World War II,” (Carragher D). Living during World War II also influenced the execution of Knowles’ novel “A Separate Peace. ” World War II was the largest and most destructive conflict in human history (World War II). The U. S. industry was busy building ships, planes and submarines, which was the most direct effect on the U. S. (World War II). Although America had not been attacked on the home front, many Americans were put into states of shock, and surprisingly this brought up a new sense of patriotism; such patriotism seen in “A Separate Peace,” and even demonstrated by Elwin “Leper” Lepellier.

Leper is the first to enlist in the army, in chapter nine (Knowles 123). This enlistment scares the boys at Devon, because it made the war more real, and it reminds them of the draft. Seeing that all the boys at Devon are nearing the age of adulthood, they could possibly be drafted (Knowles). In an interview Knowles expressed his and Heyl’s opinions of the draft, and how it felt for them, “One connecting thread between the Exeter classes of ’42 and ’71 was the war and the draft, two topics which Heyl has definite ideas about. I would kill for my country,” he says, “if it was invaded, but I refuse to go to Vietnam and kill somebody I don’t even know. When I was 18, I was almost drafted, and if it wasn’t for my asthma getting me classified 4F, I probably would have had to go,” says Heyl,” (Carragher 18). These quotes express the impact of the war, and the fear it installed in everyone’s hearts, especially the hearts of young men, like the boys at Devon Academy, and in John Knowles, in his younger years.

The author of “ A Separate Peace,” John Knowles once said, “Looking back now across fifteen years I could see with great clarity the fear I had lived in, which must mean that in the interval I had succeeded in a very important undertaking: I must have made my escape from it” (Knowles 10). The “fear” mentioned previously, is a result of the times Knowles lived in, a time of a war, which had even affected his comfortable life at a private school. In conclusion, “A Separate Peace,” by John Knowles, was influenced by his life experience at his time spent at Exeter Academy, and the ongoing war, World War II.

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