A Separate Peace
A Separate Peace
by John Knowles
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The Winter Carnival

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

OK, by now you've probably heard us talk on and on about the two sessions at Devon, Summer and Winter, and how they represent, respectively, youth/innocence/peace/rebellion and rules/authority/war/adulthood. If this is true, then even the name "Winter Carnival" is in itself oxymoronic (contradictory). How can you have a carnival of games during the somber, rule-driven Winter Session? Phineas, that's how. When Finny, the spirit of the Summer Session, returns to Devon in the Winter, crippled, he is pitted against the rules and authority of this rather serious time. Of course, Finny has no enemies, so he doesn't see it that way. "I love the winter," he says, and adds that it loves him back. The carnival is, then, a victory for Phineas, proof that the "atmosphere" he "creates" can prevail in a time of war. At least, this WOULD be the conclusion, had the Winter Carnival not ended with the arrival of a telegram from Leper, having been driven mad by the war, the very event that will pull Phineas out of his world of fantasy and back into wartime reality.

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