A Separate Peace is a novel written by John Knowles
A Separate Peace is a novel written by John Knowles. Before Knowles started his career as a writer, at the age of fifteen he was a student at Philips Exeter Academy. It is similar to Devon, the school from which the novel takes place. He graduated Exeter in the year 1945. Instead of proceeding directly to college, he joined the war effort as part of the U.S. Army Air Force's Aviation Cadet Program. A Separate Peace was the most popular of all of Knowles' novels. Through his book's characters, Knowles displayed another side of war that there are still separate moments in which one can experience peace.
The story begins with Gene, a former student of Devon school found in New Hampshire, returning after fifteen years. In chapter one, Gene begins to recall the times he spent at Devon, particularly the times he spent with another student named Phineas or more familiarly known to him as "Finny". Gene visits two places that he considers "fearful sites". The first being a marble staircase and the other being a tree.
As the story progresses, we can see that both boys have different
personalities; Finny being the charming, sports type while Gene is an introverted intellectual. Despite that, they bond and become best friends. During that summer, Finny decides to form a society called, "Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session". Every meeting each member is to jump off the tree and dive into the river, like how the seniors did to train for the war, since World War II was already starting to take place. He also creates a game called blitzball, wherein a medicine ball was to be passed from player to player. Finny continues to be remarkable as he tries to break the school's swimming record and succeeds, Gene being his only witness is sworn to secrecy.
In Chapter four, Gene is convinced that the competitiveness he feels towards Finny is mutual when Finny makes a joke that "he would kill himself out of envy" if Gene were to become valedictorian. He then proceeds to become an exceptional student. While he does this, Finny starts to study more as well. Gene assumes that he is only doing that because he wants to even out the scale; Gene being an excellent student and a fairly good athlete while Phineas was an excellent athlete but a very poor student. It all ends when Gene is invited to watch Leper finally jump off the tree. Gene complains and grudgingly heads towards the place, assuming that this was all an act to throw him off his studies. Then Finny casually claims that he doesn't have to and that he was right to be serious about something he was passionate about. Finny says that he always thought Gene was naturally smart and never realized that he might actually need to study. Gene replies that he has studied enough and goes with Finny. They are about to jump off when Finny falls out of the tree and shatters...