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A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace

by John Knowles

Warfare Theme

A Separate Peace explores not only military warfare (it takes place during World War II), but personal wars. Feelings of hostility, resentment, and fear dominate even what should be the most peaceful of environments. The novel claims that we all identify enemies in the world around us, that we "pit ourselves" against them so as to have an object for our hate and fear. Wars, both personal and political, are thus "the result of something ignorant in the human heart," an inability to understand the self and others.

Questions About Warfare

  1. What are the different types of warfare we see in A Separate Peace? Which is the most destructive?
  2. Finny doesn't admit the war is real until Leper goes crazy. What's up with that?
  3. At the end of the novel, Gene claims that he killed his enemy at Devon. To whom/what is he referring? ("Phineas" is not the only answer to this question.)

Chew on This

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

Gene's relationship with Finny is an allegory for World War II.

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