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"A Separate Peace," by John Knowles, is a novel that tells the story of pain and betrayal of two friends, Gene and Phineas.

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Introduction

"A Separate Peace," by John Knowles, is a novel that tells the story of pain and betrayal of two friends, Gene and Phineas. One of the major themes of this novel is illusion versus reality. In the novel the proof of this statement can be found in incidents like Gene's visit to Leper's home, every ones personal attitudes towards war, experience of the war, and from the Winter Carnival. Firstly, Devon seems to be a place of peace, where the boys are removed from the war, but Leper makes the war and the real world's problem (outside world) more real to the boys at Devon. Therefore, when Gene receives Leper's telegram it makes the war a reality, close to home. "I have escaped [from the war] and need help. I am at Christmas location. You understand. No need to risk address here. My safety depends on you [Gene] coming at once." (129) Leper means that his military experiences have been horrible, when he tells Gene that he escaped from the war and begs him to come for a visit. ...read more.

Middle

Unfortunately, for everyone the war seems a reality when Leper enlists. Since, "Bombs in Central Europe were completely unreal" (23) before Leper's enlistment all they saw about war were "a thousand newspaper photographs and newsreels" (23) however, when Leper enlist it becomes clear that war is inevitable for everyone. This is evident when the Gene says: "And all of us [the boys at Devon], influenced by the vacuum of his [Leper] absence, would have felt the touch of war as a daily fact" (118) Moreover, the boys experience war when they play blitzball because like in a real war they work as individual units. For example, Bonny Zane, one of the boys at Devon suggests: Let's make it have something to do with the war (29) The boys, therefore, start the illusion of war by playing blitzball, which was game, actually created by Finny. Similarly, the casualties of the war were Finny and Leper. By fate and error they were led to disaster, for Leper it was temporary insanity, while for Finny it was death. ...read more.

Conclusion

(128). Again, the Winter Carnival that was also created by Finny was an illusion of peace within reality, because it helped him and his classmates divert their minds away from the war (reality). And it is important that it is called a "separate peace" because it points out that the peace achieved is not part of the surrounding reality, which, for Gene, is a world of conflict, a world at war. In conclusion, throughout the novel Leper serves to bring the boys at Devon into reality and the real world; it is Leper's enlistment that brings the boys into reality about there being a real war from their illusion about war (blitzball, newsreels etc.); however, Gene's illusion about the tree refers to the reality of how his life evolved around it. To restate my opening lines, the novelist of "A Separate Peace", John Knowles carefully intertwines the theme of illusion versus reality for the reader through various incidents such as, Gene's visit to Leper's home, the boys personal attitudes, their experience with war, and also through the Winter Carnival ...read more.

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