Coming of Age
Facing war at age 18 is a difficult challenge, especially during WWII. A Separate Peace by John Knowles is a book about a group of boys at a boarding high school called Devon School. John Knowles was born in 1926 and raised in West Virginia. He attended two years of high school there and then went to Philips-Exeter in New Hampshire, until graduation in 1944. He then joined the air force after high school, and then went to Yale, eight months later. In his life, Knowles wrote five novels. John Knowles’ purpose of writing A Separate Peace was to show how life was like going to high school during WWII. In A Separate Peace, Gene, Finny, and Leper successfully faced maturity by dealing with peer pressure, being responsible, and by defining themselves in new ways, despite the pressures of war.
One of the characters, Gene Forester, has matured greatly throughout the novel. Gene is a remarkable young student, but struggles with life. One being Gene has held off telling Phineas about him causing Finny to fall off the tree. He keeps this guilt built up until he cannot take it anymore, and tells Finny that he caused it. “Finny, I tried to tell you before, I tried to tell you when I came to Boston that time-” (Knowles 189). This quote Gene told Finny when he was in the hospital, while he was explaining the entire incident. Gene tried to tell him earlier on at Finny’s house during vacation, but could not. Gene had also chosen to enlist in the navy, a mature decision to do at the time. Most people would be automatically drafted when they turned 18. Still, Gene is still probably scared of war, and that is the reason he has put off enlisting for so long. Gene wanted to stay by Finny’s side, because Finny is not allowed to enlist due to his broken leg.
Leper Lepellier is another important character in the book. He is an easygoing, nature lover. There is an important task Leper does. After watching a video on the Army ski patrol, he enlists into the program. Leper...