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A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace


by John Knowles

Analysis: Narrator Point of View

Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?

First Person (Central Narrator)

Gene Forrester tells his own story in retrospect while visiting Devon as an adult. This leads to a truckload of point-of-view confusions. As the narrative progresses, we can never be certain which emotions belong to the sixteen-year-old Gene, and which represent the views of the narrator. It also brings us into the realm of unreliability. We don't know if the narrator lying, or even if, after all these years, he's even capable of telling the truth. With the emotional complexity of the events he's describing, it's very possible that Gene, even as an adult, still doesn't fully understand what he was feeling in 1942-3. He could be confused, repressing, or even outright lying. It's messy stuff, this first-person business.

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