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Use of Symbols in John Knowles novel, "A Separate Peace".

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Introduction

P. Coleman Phoebe Coleman Ms. Thackeray Sophomore Honors English September 28, 2010 The Use of Symbols in A Separate Peace John Knowles? novel, A Separate Peace, appears to start off as a simple tale of two adolescent boys, Gene and Phineas (Finny), bumbling their way through life. Underneath that facade lies an increasingly sinister plot that takes the youths through a journey of self-discovery and shared turmoil. Knowles uses the seasons, the tree from which Phineas fell, and Maginot Lines as symbols to convey to the reader a deeper meaning of the transformation that reshapes the brother-like bond Gene and Phineas possess. The seasons of Summer, Fall and Winter are all degrees of time used in Knowles? novel to indicate the drastic change in Finny (Phineas) and Gene?s friendship over the time they spend at Devon School. To begin, Summer symbolizes freedom and the carefree spirit both the boys have at this stage in their lives. ...read more.

Middle

Now, Gene and Finny?s camaraderie begins to unravel and fade and as an effect, of the failure in their relationship, Gene begins to feel the repercussions of this change. Furthermore, we can see that Gene may no longer feel the need to outdo Finny, but that the wounds from the inner battle with himself have not fully healed. The manner in which Knowles uses different seasons enhances our perception of Gene and Finny?s feelings toward each other and the world. The tree from which the boys jumped from can symbolize both healing and a person?s loss of innocence. Right after Finny falls from the tree Gene states: Finny, his balance gone, swung his head 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. It was the first clumsy physical action I had ever seen him make. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the very end of the novel, Gene say, ?All of them, all except Phineas, constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy who never attacked that way- if he ever attacked at all; if he was indeed the enemy.? At this instance, Gene realizes how the Maginot Lines he created were worthless because Finny, had not in any way, attempted to attack him. Finny never tried to outdo Gene or be better than Gene was; Finny was already confident with himself. The Maginot Lines symbolize the conclusion of Gene and Finny?s relationship. In a way, they symbolize a final wall erected between the friends, representing the severing of their lives together. The symbols John Knowles chose to include in his novel determine the direction the novel is going and how characters relate with each other. These symbols help the reader better understand the deeper meaning of the novel. The use of the seasons, the tree, and the Maginot Lines allow us to see further into Gene and Finny?s emotions, actions, and relationship. ...read more.

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