A Separate Peace, Theme Analysis- Group 2, Period 4/5

Every day, soldiers return home from the front lines traumatized and changed by their experiences. While most soldiers can recover from their traumas, given the correct therapy, sometimes there are irreparable changes in the soldiers. In the book, A Separate Peace, Knowles conveys the theme, war corrupts the innocent. At the school of Devon, as summer draws to a close, and the irresponsibility and undisciplined students fade into the strict preparations of war, a recruiter helps to enlist Leper. Months later, Gene receives a letter from him stating that he’s escaped, but the truth is more terrifying than Gene realizes, “For if Leper was psycho it was the army which had done it to him, and I and all of us were on the brink of the army” (135-136). Because of the war, Leper, having always been cocooned in his false protection, loses his sanity in the face of the horrible truth. As the year ends, army troops move onto Devon’s grounds and this forces the students to face the truth, while unraveling the togetherness of their individual, “With those of my year this point often came when they grasped the fact of the war. When they began to feel that there was this overwhelmingly hostile thing in the world with them, then the simplicity and unity of their characters broke and they were not the same again” (194). As the narrator states repeatedly, the students are wrapped up in their carelessness and freedom throughout the story, but as they’re forced to face the truth of what’s been occurring all along, it changes them. Throughout the book, Gene alludes to an enemy that emerges within the presence of war and finally addresses this invisible adversary. Because of the fact that the majority of the students never enlisted, they created their own personal foes, and Gene’s enemy was Phineas, “Nothing as he was growing up at home, nothing at Devon, nothing even about the war had broken his harmonious and natural unity. So at last I had” (195). Sometimes, soldiers never need to march in war to face an enemy, but instead face them on their own personal territory. Although therapy can help correct the wounds of war, the memory of the damage remains in their minds. John Knowles, the author of A Separate Peace, touches on the theme of war corrupts the innocent.

A Separate Peace, Character Analysis: Quackenbush- Group 2, Period 4/5

In the book, A Separate Peace, Cliff Quackenbush, is portrayed as a mature and rude student. Quackenbush is not popular among the students at the Devon school, and these students make their hatred towards Quackenbush known, “For Quackenbush had been systematically disliked since he first set foot in Devon, with careless, disinterested insults coming at him from the beginning, voting for and applauding the class leaders through years of attaining nothing he wanted for himself” (70). Quackenbush considers himself inferior to the other students at Devon merely because they have told him so, and thus he agrees with the leaders of the school all in an effort to be liked by the students. Though this does not work due to the fact that insults are still thrown at Quackenbush from his fellow students. Everyone considers Quackenbush inferior to themselves, so when Gene joins him on the ship crew, Quackenbush grasps onto the chance that Gene is below him, “…the furious arrogance which sprang out now at the mere hint of opposition from someone he had at last found whom he could consider inferior to himself” (70-71). Quackenbush believes that Gene is beneath him because no one signs up to be senior crew manager to work under the bully, Quackenbush. The only reason that someone would sign up to work under him would be if they were disabled and couldn’t work anywhere else. This enrages Gene, and thus, they fight, which carries over when they fall into the Naguamsett river. The fight ends when Quackenbush yells at Gene, “Get out of here, Forrester,’ he said bitterly from the water, ‘you’re not wanted around here, Forrester. Get out of here” (71). In the book, no one cares to learn Quackenbush’s first name.“A clue to it was that his first name was never used-I didn’t even know what it was-and he has no nickname, not even an unfriendly one” (68). Quackenbush’s lack of importance at the Devon school is demonstrated by the fact that nobody cares to learn his first name. Cliff Quackenbush has matured due to the necessity to protect himself from the insults of his peers at Devon, who’s caustic bullying has caused him to become a cruel and frustrated young man.

Main Character (Gene) Group 3 Pd. 3

The main characters in A Separate Peace are one of the most important foundations for building the story. Without them, the story would have no way to explain itself. Overall, they make the book an actual story.

One of the main characters is Gene Forrester. Gene is a reclusive hardworking student who attends the Devon School. He has a deep envy of his roommate and best friend, Phineas. He states that he “couldn’t help envying him that a little, which was perfectly normal. There was no harm in envying even your best friend a little” (18) . Another example of how he envies Phineas is that he tries on his clothes when he is away, and he feels “like some sort of nobleman, some Spanish grandee. But when I looked in the mirror it was no remote aristocrat I had become, no character out of day dreams. I was Phineas, Phineas to the life” (54). His envy for Phineas is so great that he feels the need to try on his clothes and become Phineas. Also, when Phineas breaks a school swimming record and makes Gene not tell anybody, he thinks, “Was he trying to impress me or something? Not tell anybody? When he had broken a school record without a day of practice? I knew he was serious about it, so I didn’t tell anybody. Perhaps for that reason his accomplishment took root in my mind and grew rapidly in the darkness where I was forced to hide it” (36). The fact that Phineas had broken a school record in a sport he never played made that thought thrive intensely in his mind.

Gene also has  a wish to blur his true identity, and his emotions of love and hate. Through this process, he wishes to “become a part of Phineas” (77). Besides having a deep love for Phineas, he also has a hate. He feels as if “Finny had deliberately set out to wreck my (Gene’s) studies” (45). From this idea, he then begins to feel as if he and Phineas are having a competition with one another. Furthermore, he states that he “knew of too much hate to be contained in a world like this” (47).

Gene is the cause of Phineas’ fall. “I (Gene) took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud” (52). Not only is this where Gene causes Phineas’ to fall, but it is also where his true evil emerges. Eventually, Phineas dies later in the story. Even though Finny dies, he still lives on through Gene, who became a part of him.

Lord of the Flies: Song Connection (Lord of the Flies) – period 3, group 3

The song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_8k3NVTZYU

The lyrics, if you can’t access the video: http://www.lyricsdepot.com/iron-maiden/lord-of-the-flies.html

“Lord of the Flies”, a rather fittingly named Iron Maiden single, is one big reference to Lord of the Flies, and offers a different perspective on the events of the novel. The lyrics seem very similar to lines of Jack’s dialogue, especially in lines seven through nine — “Who cares now what’s right or wrong/it’s reality/Killing so we survive”. In the book, when Piggy cites a rule that Jack has broken, he tells him “‘Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong — we hunt!’” (91). The obsession with hunting and killing is typical of Jack, and the blatant disregard for right or wrong is what leads to the savage tribe’s creation. The similarity between the lyrics and Jack’s personality only strengthens in lines 14 through 16, where they read “We must prepare ourselves for the elements/I just want to feel like we’re strong/We don’t need a code of morality”. After a raid on Ralph’s tribe, Jack “led then, trotting steadily, exulting in his achievement [of stealing Piggy’s glasses]. He was a chief now in truth; and he made stabbing motions with his spear. From his left hand dangled Piggy’s broken glasses.” (168). These lyrics almost directly parallel what happens in the story – Jack steals the glasses so that he can start a fire himself. In a way, this is is ‘preparing for the elements’. Jack evidently feels stronger after the raid, asserting that he is “a chief now in truth”, and the savage tribe’s code of morality went out the door after Jack took over. Iron Maiden’s “Lord of the Flies” has many parallels to the events of Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and it gives the antagonist’s point of view of the story.

A Separate Peace Group 3 Song Connection Period 3

In the novel A Separate Piece, author John Knowles uses Gene and Phineas to convey a deeper theme of codependency. By the end of the book, Gene and Phineas seem to completely rely on each other for both physical and emotional support. The song “Lean on Me,” by Bill Withers, supports these same types of ideas all throughout.

The lyrics in “Lean on Me” express the same opinion regarding deep friendship in various ways. For example, near the middle of the song, the lyrics read “If there is a load you have to bear, that you can’t carry…I’ll share your load” (21-24). This is very similar to how Gene helps Phineas once he returns to school with his broken leg. Phineas, once an amazing athlete, can no longer play any sports or do much of any type of physical activity. However, Phineas still wants to have an impact on the athletic world, and begins to train Gene to be able to do all of the amazing physical feats he used to be able to do. Knowles describes in the book how Phineas tells Gene “‘Listen, pal, if I can’t play sports, you’re going to play them for me'” (77). Like in the song, Phineas can no longer do what he wants, so Gene helps out in this instance.

Also, in the middle of the song, it says “I’ll help you carry on, for it won’t be long, ’til I’m gonna need, somebody to lean on” (17-20). In the novel, although he is helping Phineas to achieve all of his athletic dreams, Gene completely relies on Phineas emotionally. As the story progresses and their friendship deepens, Gene tries to mend himself completely into Phineas’ character, exemplified by moments like when Gene tries on Phineas’ clothes and he finds them fitting for him. Knowles even goes on to say that Gene had finally found out his “purpose from the first: to become a part of Phineas” (77). Gene helps Phineas with all of his endeavors regarding sports and athleticism, but that is only because Gene absolutely needs Phineas to return the favor, on an emotional level. This is exactly what the lyrics of the song say.

Clearly, the song “Lean on Me” has many of the same ideas found in A Separate Peace. For the full lyrics of the song, read below

 

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don’t let show

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

If there is a load you have to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me

So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Lean on me…

Ralph Character Analysis Period 4/5 LOTF

Ralph is the leader of the “good” tribe. At 12, he is one of the older boys, or “biguns,” and he is the first character the reader meets. He is thin, blond, and tan. He is a leader because he can convince the others to listen to him, but he depends on Piggy’s decisions because he knows that Piggy can think more like a grown-up than he can. For instance, Ralph reflects to himself, “…if you were a chief you had to think, you had to be wise. And then the occasion slipped by so that you had to grab at a decision. That made you think; because thought was a valuable thing, that got results… Only, decided Ralph as he faced the chief’s seat, I can’t think. Not like Piggy” (78). When Jack breaks off and creates his “evil” tribe, Ralph sticks with his morals and does not resort to cruelty. He feels responsible for many of the littluns, and knows his priorities, such as the fire and huts. He is determined to create and maintain a fire so that they can be rescued. For example, Ralph keeps telling the boys, “The fire is the most important thing on the island. How can we ever be rescued except by luck, if we don’t keep a fire going? Is a fire too much for us to make?” (80). He is persistent throughout the book with his fire idea, even when all of the other boys want to have “fun” and join the other tribe. In the end, Ralph is hunted down by all of the boys on the island, and probably would have been killed if they had not been rescued. He is also the one who weeps for the losses on the the island (the loss of lives and of innocence). “The tears began to flow and sobs shook him…And in the middle of them, with filthy body, unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy,” was how Ralph reacted to his experience on the island (202). Ralph was the moral leader of his tribe.

Theme pd 4/5

In John Knowles’ novel, A Separate Peace, it is clear that a person’s jealousy will bring out malevolence towards others. For example, early in the story when Gene starts drawing the conclusion that Phineas, his good friend, is trying to sabotage his studies, he questions Finny, “‘You wouldn’t mind if I would be head of the class, would you?’…’I’d kill myself out of jealous envy.’ I believed him” (44). Either Finny is actually jealous of Gene or Gene is paranoid and thinking the irrational thought that his best friend is out to get him. Gene is suspicious, a common symptom of serious jealousy, of Finny’s frequent excursions that seem to always interrupt his studies; one should not think so poorly of his or her friend especially under so small amounts of evidence. Furthermore, when Gene’s doubts about Phineas’ loyalties seem to change, he still acts on an impulse, he recalls, “I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches and hit the bank with a sickening unnatural thud” (52). Gene still has lingering doubts about Finny’s loyalties even though he proves that all he has is devotion for Gene. Jealousy, if one lets it, can take over one’s thoughts and body; this case is a great example: Gene had doubts and on an impulse, he acted out his doubts to dire circumstances. It is best to keep jealousy under control, and Gene’s actions are a perfect example of how jealousy can bring out malevolence in any person.

Non-fiction connection period 4/5

In John Knowles’ novel, A Separate Peace, it is clear that a person’s jealousy will bring out malevolence towards others. For example, early in the story when Gene starts drawing the conclusion that Phineas, his good friend, is trying to sabotage his studies, he questions Finny, “‘You wouldn’t mind if I would be head of the class, would you?’…’I’d kill myself out of jealous envy.’ I believed him” (44). Either Finny is actually jealous of Gene or Gene is paranoid and thinking the irrational thought that his best friend is out to get him. Gene is suspicious, a common symptom of serious jealousy, of Finny’s frequent excursions that seem to always interrupt his studies; one should not think so poorly of his or her friend especially under so small amounts of evidence. Furthermore, when Gene’s doubts about Phineas’ loyalties seem to change, he still acts on an impulse, he recalls, “I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches and hit the bank with a sickening unnatural thud” (52). Gene still has lingering doubts about Finny’s loyalties even though he proves that all he has is devotion for Gene. Jealousy, if one lets it, can take over one’s thoughts and body; this case is a great example: Gene had doubts and on an impulse, he acted out his doubts to dire circumstances. It is best to keep jealousy under control, and Gene’s actions are a perfect example of how jealousy can bring out malevolence in any person.

ASP Phineas Period 4/5

     One of the main characters in the novel A Separate Peace, is Phineas. Phineas, also known as “Finny” in the novel, is the best friend of the narrator, Gene. All of the descriptions of Finny come from Gene’s point of view. Phineas is often shown as a leader. One instance is when he created “blitzball”, Gene states “He [Finny] had unconsciously invented a game which brought his own athletic gifts to their highest pitch” (31) after explaining that Finny was the best one at the game. Along with being a leader, Finny is described as confident. Multiple times throughout the novel, Finny’s confidence is obvious. When Finny was confident and daring enough to wear his bright pink shirt, Gene thought “No one else in the school could have done so without some risk of having it torn from his back” (18). Finny has the ability to act differently and dress differently because of the amount of confidence he has in himself.  Finny also is very charismatic towards his classmates, and teachers alike. He is able to use his ample persuasion skills to talk his way out of practically anything. One example is when Finny wears his school  tie as a belt to a formal dinner, and has to talk himself out of getting trouble when the headmasters wife notices this bold garment manipulation. Gene watches in amazement and says “Phineas was going to get away with even this” before he stated in disappointment that Finny “got away with everything” (21). Phineas uses his charisma and people-skills to manipulate others, but maintains his status as a very personable young man, too.

     Along with all of these other positive characteristics, Finny is described as being very athletic. At many points, it seems like Gene envies Phineas’ athleticism, such as when Phineas broke the school swimming record without any prior practice, Gene thinks to himself “To switch to a new sport suddenly, just for a day, and immediately break a record in it- that was about as neat a trick, as dazzling a reversal as I could, to be perfectly honest, possibly imagine” (37). There were many instances in the novel where Finny’s athleticism shone, including him inventing blitzball, and him participating in so many sports. Phineas is also very daring, shown when he was the first to jump out of the tree, with no hesitation. Gene states, “”He [Finny] sprang out, fell through the tops of some lower branches, and smashed into the water” before he thinks to himself that “This tree flooded me with a sensation of alarm all the way to my tingling fingers” (8). Compared to Gene, Finny has an astonishing sense of dare-devil within him, displayed in many ways throughout the novel. Phineas is also very good-natured, and can never see anyone as an enemy, even when Gene started to become suspicious about Finny and whether or not he was really his best friend. Phineas states, “Listen, I could study forever and I’d never break C. But it’s different for you, you’re good. You really are” after Gene was contemplating whether Finny was being sincere with him or not (50). It was obvious that prior to Finny saying this, Gene was being suspicious and rude; however, Finny uses his positive outlook and simply compliments Gene. Throughout the novel, Phineas is described as many different things, including authoritative, athletic, charismatic, daring, and positive.

ASP, Chet Douglass, period 4/5

     A fellow student at the Devon School, Chet Douglass is Gene’s only rival for head of their class. Chet never stands out as a leader to Gene, because according to him, “You had to be rude at least sometimes and edgy often to be credited with ‘personality’” (124). Playing tennis and the trumpet are his only pastimes besides learning; consequently, Chet’s sincere curiosity always keeps him slightly behind in classes. This becomes apparent when Gene says “I began to see that Chet was weakened by the very genuineness of his interest in learning. He got carried away with things” (46). Gene is able to stay ahead in school because he sees all of his schoolwork in the same way, never wanting to go in-depth on his own time; whereas Chet is fascinated by what he learns and has to explore more outside of class. Although he is devoted to everything he does, Chet’s lack of personality leaves him as just a minor character throughout A Separate Peace.

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