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A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace

by John Knowles

Fear Theme

Fear abounds on multiple levels in A Separate Peace, accompanying the various "wars" fought throughout the course of the novel, wars both military and personal. Adolescent fear of the future stems from fear of the self, as the novel's young men wonder whether they are capable of functioning in a world consumed by war and hatred. We also see fear revolving around personal identity and, most prominently, fear of one's own character, of the crimes of which one may be capable.

Questions About Fear

  1. What are the different sources of fear for the Gene in A Separate Peace? Which is the most inhibiting for Gene?
  2. How is fear different for the sixteen-year-old Gene than it is for the narrator? Where do we see these differences illuminated? Can we trust the narrator in these instances?
  3. Does fear spur Gene to action, or hold him back from action? How does it affect his behavior?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

"Leper" Lepellier is the only character in A Separate Peace not consumed by fear.

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