Influences of John Knowles
What is an author’s muse? A muse can be influences from historical events, life events, or ideals. A Separate Peace written by John Knowles is a book written from his experiences and current events. He took these experiences and transferred them to his novel. Today many people appreciate his novel and its influences. John Knowles’ boarding school at Exeter, his life and experiences during World War II, and the characters’ guilt influenced his great work, A Separate Peace.
Phillips Exeter Academy, the school John Knowles attended, played a major role in the development of the story. John Knowles wrote A Separate Peace fifteen years after his graduation. In the beginning of A Separate Peace, Gene returns to visit the school fifteen years later (Knowles. “A Special Time, A Special School” 1). Knowles’ graduation time influenced the amount of years Gene visited the school after graduating. Like the Devon School, Exeter is located in New England, where most of the plot took place (1).
Various characters were modeled after people that attended the academy. Phineas “Finny” was modeled after Bob Tait. He died on the operating table because bone marrow escaped from his bones, which is a major part of Finny’s character (Knowles. “Reflections of John Knowles about his Novel” 2). George Carhart is the school clergyman in the novel; however, at Exeter, he works in the English department. John Knowles gave this English teacher an important role in the novel because he liked the sound of his name (1). Brinker Hadley, one of the characters in the novel, was modeled after Gore Vidal (1). According to John Knowles, Gore was “a very unusual and thriving person.” (1). Vidal’s personality formed the persona of Brinker, a model student (2). Gene was modeled after David Hackett; he attended Milton Academy but spent the summer sessions at Exeter (1). “Let’s face it, there are Lepers in this world, so I felt like I didn’t need a model for that character,” (1) He believed that in every person’s life, they have someone who is innocent and suddenly changes, like Leper (2).
Several activities and structures are both in Exeter and Devon. The marble steps are an important piece in A Separate Peace. These steps came from marble steps in Exeter (Knowles. “A Special Time, A Special School” 1). Also, the tree that Gene and Finny jumped from was a tree in John Knowles’ school (1). He and his friends established a club called Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session, which is the same club in the book (1).
During 1939 to 1945, the world was raging in the Second World War (“World War II” 1). World War II was fought against the Allied Powers, Europe, United States, and the Soviet Union, and the Axis Powers, Germany, Italy, and Japan (1). John Knowles’ experience in the Air Force gave him the impression to make the war a big part of the lives of the characters in the novel (Holborn 1).
The term “a separate peace’ is used in the military as...