A Separate Peace
by John Knowles
A Separate Peace Theme of Youth
In A Separate Peace, youth exists in its own environment, isolated physically, mentally, and emotionally from the rest of the world. Growing up, then, involves a transition from this sheltered environment to the harsh realities of things like war, hatred, and fear. Yet these realities permeate and destroy the world of youth, particularly given the setting (World War II, which threatens peace even for the young).
Questions About Youth
- Who is more mature, Gene or Finny? Does Gene grow past Phineas after the accident, or does he regress? What does "mature" mean in this novel, anyway?
- In the beginning of A Separate Peace, it would seem that joining the army represents a transition to the adult world. Does Leper's fate confirm or dispute that theory?
- Does Phineas's injury push him into the world of adulthood or further into his youthful fantasies?
Chew on This
A Separate Peace challenges traditional notions of "youth" as opposed to "adulthood."