Friendship and Tragedy in John Knowles' A Separate Peace
Some friendships last forever and others do not but in the novel, A Separate Peace (1959) by John Knowles, displays a different kind of friendship. The reader throughout this novel was very entertained. This novel takes place at the Devon Preparatory School in the years of 1942-1943.
This story begins when Gene Forrester comes back to the Devon School fifteen years after his graduation to relive a tragic story. He walks up to a tree and the story then begins in the summer of 1942. When Gene arrives at the school he meets a very intriguing person by the name of Phineas also known as Finny, they end up starting the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session, where they meet every night at the big tree by the river. Later, in the story Finny and Gene decide to skip school and when they get back Gene has to take a test and fails, which he blames it on Finny. Then one night at the tree Finny is on the limb of the tree that jump from into the water Gene causes the limb to move causing Finny to fall. This fall breaks his leg. Finny is out of a school for awhile and when he returns to school there is a mock trial held in order to determine if Gene caused this on purpose. Finny is astonished by this a leave the courtroom he falls down stairs re-breaking his leg. Finny dies in the operation to reset his leg. Gene finishes out his senior year and leaves and the school is turned into an Army base. Throughout this novel both Gene and Phineas display the theme of friendship. Sometimes friendship is valued most through tragedy.
From the very beginning of the novel Finny was displayed as a character that everyone wants to be around. He is a very athletic boy who excels at everything he does. John Knowles states, "-Phineas in those days always moved in groups the size of a hockey team" (6). This shows how Finny moves in groups. He isn't just athletic; he is also very intelligent and is always at the top of his class.
Finny always has ideas on something to create or a club he wants to start. A club that he started was the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session. A the beginning of this novel Gene talks about a tree and it seemed at the time that the tree was going to have some significance. The tree...