‘Seperate Peace’ offers readers view into ordinary lives

Seperate Peace  offers readers view into ordinary lives

Seperate Peace book cover
Should one be jealous of their best friend? A “Separate Peace” gets you thinking that jealousy and hatred lead to nothing but tragedy. “Separate Peace” is a novel by John Knowles that shows the lives of ordinary boys in Devon, a private boarding school in New England. The story takes place in the 1940s during World War 2. The novel turns upside down after the envy of one of them causes a minor incident that ends as deep and as big as evil itself.

The novel is seen through a viewpoint of Gene, the main character who worked to be the best student in school.  He is afraid of his feelings, a conformist, obedient to the rules, reserved and he’s dissatisfied with his life.  He is shown to have a dark side and is a complete opposite to what Finny is.

Phineas, or better yet Finny, is Gene’s roommate and “best friend”. He is the best athlete in the school, a natural rebel, an individualist, responds to the moment and wants to be in complete control. He is a man of action, expresses his emotions openly, he’s always happy and good at heart. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see any of the story through Finny’s eyes.

The story begins 15 years later as Gene returns to New Hampshire to visit Devon. As the chapter goes on Gene reaches a tree connected to a small river underneath it and the flashback begins. It starts off with the boys, Gene, Finny and a few others at the tree that Gene is described at. Finny is convincing them to jump off and it is shown that the tree will be a symbol later on. Finn eventually persuades Gene to jump out as well showing that Finny has control over Gene.

The story carries on bringing back the tree where Finny suffers a terrible injury causing sports to be over for him. Finny starts to train Gene to become a better athlete and it is seen that Gene is becoming more and more like Finny, caring less and less about things. The novel begins to unravel new surprises and has a stomach turning ending that will leave you teary eyed and full of rage.

For me, this novel connects to teens my age that deal with best friends. Although the tensions are worse, the story relates to what you feel sometimes and each character ties into a person you know in real life. I was surprised that I enjoyed this novel because it is a bit slow at the beginning but it teaches you a life lesson that you will make sure to keep.

Personally I enjoy Finny’s character and I wish that I had a best friend like that but Gene is very selfish and ungrateful. However, some part of you relates to Gene. At one point in the novel, Gene gets angry at Finny for not getting in trouble when he is out of dress code and I have actually gotten mad at people as well when they get away with things. Although Gene character is a bit dark and wicked, a part of you is Gene and another part is Finny. At the end, you can actually judge whether or not you were a Finny or a Gene.

I much enjoyed this book; it is very well written and realistic. The events and the feelings behind each character can actually happen. It makes you stop and think about the situations happening and how you would handle them. It teaches us all a lesson about life and the emotion behind events that can trigger you into a whole different person. This book ties a lot into Lord of the Flies and the movie Dead Poets Society, dealing both with young men whose characters transform. I recommend this book to anyone wanting a good read.