A Separate Peace Essay

  • Category: History
  • Words: 902
  • Grade: 100
A Separate Peace Essay
In the book A Separate Peace, John Knowles makes the arguments that all things have a dual nature, all things change, and all things experience conflict. The story follows the different parts of Knowles' thesis and illustrates each of them. The book A Separate Peace illustrates on each of Knowles' points using the characters and settings effectively.
The people, locations, and even the seasons at Devon School all have a dual nature. For example, Gene and Phineas are two completely different characters. Gene is introverted and studious, while Phineas is the natural leader of any group and is good in every sport that he tries at. Phineas attracts everyone that he meets (p. 32). Also, locations in Devon have a dual nature. For example, the two rivers, the Devon and the Naguamsett are two different things, the Devon being clean and refreshing and the Naguamsett being murky and filthy (p. 78). Also, the outside and inside of the buildings at Devon are very different (p. 102). Furthermore, the seasons at Devon are very different. During the summer, things are carefree and happy, and the rules are less strictly enforced (p. 16). While, during the winter, things are more stressed in the boys' lives, and everything is a little colder (p. 119).
Throughout the book, things are changing and evolving. The seasons change from winter into summer. Things change as a result of this. The teachers treat the boys with more discipline in the winter than in the summer (p. 16). Also, the entire school seems colder in the winter as well (p. 119). The big tree that the boys jump off of changes. Fifteen years later, it seems smaller and less threatening to Gene (p. 6). Furthermore, the entire school seems smaller to him. He is no longer anxious or threatened by the buildings or any of the school, and he says that the buildings look different to him (p. 1).
Conflict is constant throughout the book, and is mainly between Gene and himself. In the beginning of the book, Gene thinks that Phineas is against him, however Gene is only jealous of Phineas. Gene creates his own conflict. In the middle of the book, Gene is fighting with himself, however he is facing his guilt from pushing Phineas out of the tree. He faces Brinker who asks him if he pushed Phineas out of the tree, and feels guilty the entire time (p. 79-83). At the end of the book, Gene faces a conflict when Phineas is told the truth by Brinker. He admits his guilt to Phineas, and is faced with more guilt because he feels, later, that he killed Phineas.
Knowles presents his thesis throughout the book using the characters to serve as examples to prove his thesis. His thesis is conveyed to the audience while they read about Gene and Phineas. Knowles' displays the story through Gene's eyes, which causes us to sometimes doubt the truth of what Gene is saying. It also lets us see the darker side of Gene's character.
I think that Knowles makes several good points with his thesis, and I believe that it is true. The main point of Knowles' thesis depends on the fact that there is duality in all things. Because of this duality, there is conflict, and conflict is brought on by change. Without a duality in all things, the rest of Knowles' thesis will not work. If any one part is taken away, then the other parts are not as effective.
Knowles points out that there is a dual nature in all things. What you show the world is sometimes different than how you really are inside. Gene pretended to always be friendly and was usually nice to Phineas, even when he was convinced that Phineas was against him. Gene put on a different face in public than when he was alone. Also, Knowles feels that you are your own worst enemy, and I find this to be true many times. People tend to hate the dark or evil side of themselves, even though they know that they have it and must endure it. Gene saw his dark side and hated himself because of it.
Conflict and change are the same thing, since change brings conflict. People want no change in their lives. When babies come out of the womb, they are faced with a huge change, and they want to return from where they came. People try to combat change, and thus bring conflict. Change happens all the time in everyday life, therefore there is also conflict. Change and conflict are two parts of the Knowles' thesis that we cannot live without.
I agree with the Knowles' thesis because it holds true in daily life. Any person would act as Knowles would expect them to act, using his thesis. Knowles has conveyed the truth convincingly through his book A Separate Peace.

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