Analysis Of John Knowle's A Separate Peace, And William Golding's The Lord Of The Flies

2041 words - 8 pages

Civilization versus savagery, order versus chaos, reason versus impulse, law versus anarchy, or simply good versus evil infinitely describe the dreadful encounters of humanity. Every battle, every political struggle, every account of internal strife embodies these conflicts. World War II demonstrates the key clash of good versus evil within society, being the most deadly, destructive and consequential war in history. After beginning in 1939, the war raged for six more years. The war’s estimated fatalities reach as high as 70 million, opening everyone’s eyes. Two significantly influenced individuals were John Knowles and William Golding, who wrote novels in response to World War II. Concerning Knowles, he joined the war effort as a part of the U.S. Army Air Force’s Aviation Cadet Program. Knowles’ novel A Separate Peace alludes to his view of World War II. Also, Knowles’ novel found its genesis in the author’s own experiences with discovering the emotional truth in his life. The story depicts a young man overcoming his immature and malicious ways through the death of a friend. Knowles acknowledges that he modeled Gene Forrester, the narrator, after himself and that Phineas, Gene’s friend, was modeled after Knowles’ own classmate. Similarly, Golding also demonstrates the dark side of human nature in his novel, Lord of the Flies. Golding’s novel focuses on a group of innocent boys that crash on a deserted island, causing them to fall into conflict and chaos. Golding’s pessimism regarding human nature derives from his experience in the Navy during World War II, where he served on mine sweepers, destroyers, and cruisers. Ultimately, both Knowles’ A Separate Peace and Golding’s Lord of the Flies display the themes of inherent human savagery and loss of innocence through examples of good and evil.
To begin, Knowles offers the themes of loss of innocence and inherent human savagery through the models of good in A Separate Peace. To illustrate, the war invades on Devon school, a safe-haven for the boys in the novel. As World War II becomes more prevalent, the boys begin to witness how the war alters the atmosphere of Devon. Gene notes this change as soldiers begin to occupy Devon School, “It was not the essence of Devon, and so it was donated, without too serious a wrench, to the war” (Knowles 187). The school donates its Far Common quadrangle to the military for a parachute riggers’ school. The army drives in at the beginning of summer to occupy it, signifying a loss of innocence. The war’s malicious qualities contrast with the virtue of Devon; the war’s encroachment on Devon represents The Devil’s intrusion on The Garden of Eden. Also, Phineas’ death exhibits the idea of inherent human savagery and loss of innocence. At one point in the novel, Leper Lepellier, a symbol of truth, mentions that “Everything has to evolve or else it perishes” (Knowles 117). This preemptively and essentially explains Phineas’ death. Phineas...

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