A Separate Peace
A Separate Peace
by John Knowles
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A Separate Peace Memory and the Past Quotes Page 1

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Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Quote #1

I didn't entirely like this glossy new surface, because it made the school look like a museum, and that's exactly what it was to me, and what I did not want it to be. In the deep, tacit way in which feeling becomes stronger than thought, I had always felt that the Devon School came into existence the day I entered it, was vibrantly real while I was a student there, and then blinked out like a candle the day I left (1.2).

Gene has not learned from Finny's death; he's still manipulating reality to serve his purposes.

Quote #2

Everything at Devon slowly changed and slowly harmonized with what had gone before. So it was logical to hope that since the buildings and the Deans and the curriculum could achieve this, I could achieve, perhaps unknowingly already had achieved, this growth and harmony myself (1.13).

This becomes the governing question for all of A Separate Peace – whether or not Gene has achieved growth and harmony. As readers we are meant to reconsider this question again in the reflections of Chapter Thirteen.

Quote #3

Unbelievable that there were other trees which looked like it here. It had loomed in my memory as a huge lone spike dominating the riverbank, forbidding as an artillery piece, high as the beanstalk. Yet here was a scattered grove of trees, none of them of any particular grandeur (1.17).

This sets the stage for narrative unreliability. We have to doubt the accuracy of Gene's story, not because he's actively lying, but because memory is flawed and subjective.

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