A Separate Peace

In the novel A Separate Peace by John Knowles one of the main characters, Phonies experiences a loss of innocence. This loss of innocence relates to a bigger theme in the novel. This bigger theme is that you must mature and evolve or you will perish. Phonies also known as Finny is very childish and priorities play over work, he has trouble accepting that there is a war going on, and he denies major events such as Gene Jouncing the limb. Innocence must be lost in order to mature and Finny has a brutal time doing so.

One of Fanny’s most overwhelming characteristic would be his childlike innocence. He invents a game called Blackball where everyone furiously competes but no one wins, this perfectly represents Fanny’s attitude towards life. Gene describes that Finny “unconsciously invented a game which brought his own athletic gifts to their highest pitch”(39), this describes how Finny always wants to be on top and show off his athletic talents to his friends. He wants them to continue playing with him so he sets it up so there in no winner and he can still come out on top but never declared the inner.

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He wants to keep the game fun for everyone because truly all he wants to do is play and have fun to keep everyone’s thought away from the war. Finny believes if he distracts everyone with his games and makes everyone have a carefree attitude like him they won’t leave him to go fight in the war. Another example of Finny being childish is his idea to create the “ASSESS” or the “Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session”. Gene describes the club as “a success from the start”(33) and “The Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session was a club; clubs by definition met regularly; e met every night.

Nothing could be more regular than that. To meet once a week seemed to him much less regular, entirely too haphazard, bordering on carelessness. I went along; I never missed a meeting”(34). Finny used this club to draw the people close to him in so that they would forget about the war going on and stay with him at the Devon School. Phonies’ childish and carefree attitude at times brought a “Separate Peace” to the people of the Devon School but it did not help him mature as a person, this childlike attitude wouldn’t let him mature and evolve and this attitude as a major factor in him perishing.

Finny has a very hard time accepting that there is a war going on. This trouble accepting the war is also another example of his childlike innocence. In an effort to convince Gene that there wasn’t really a war going on he creates a fantasy that he is one of the only people that knows that the whole “war” is Just a hoax. He claims that the war is a fabrication of “fat old men”, he says this because he cannot admit that he is too crippled to go to war and that he would be useless.

He denies the war because e can’t accept that he does not have the ability to go to war and he does not want all his friends to leave him and go to war without him. Finny is humiliated by his physical state and all he wants is his old self back and this humiliation results in his denial of the war. He believes that if he can convince himself and others that there is no war going and then he is no longer useless because he is not needed. When he this separated their already tense friendship even further. Later in the Finny says to Gene “Anyway•ay… En I knew there was a real war on. “(164), this is extremely important because it shows that Finny is starting to lose his innocence by accepting the war. This loss of innocence is crucial in Fanny’s effort to maturing and making the transition into adulthood. Not only does Gene have a trouble accepting the war but he also has trouble accepting that Gene Jounced the limb of the tree. When Jumping off the tree into the river of the Devon School, Gene unknowingly Jounced the limb of the tree causing Finny to fall off and awkwardly fall and break his leg.

Brinier organizes an assembly in the assembly room to bring out the truth of what happened on the tree and how Gene ended up Jouncing the limb. Finny refuses to hear the truth because he is afraid to face the truth, “He shook his head sharply, closing his eyes, and then he turned to regard me with a handsome mask of a face… He started across the marble floor towards the doors… The excellent exterior acoustics recorded his rushing steps and the quick rapping of his cane along the corridor and on the first steps of the marble stairway.

Then these separate sounds collided into the general tumult of his body falling clumsily down the white marble stairs. “(176-177). Fanny’s refusal to hear the truth and his childlike attitude caused him to make a stupid decision by running down the stairs resulting in him re-fracturing his leg. This fracture caused him to die later in the infirmary, ultimately relating back to the theme that you must evolve of perish. Finny couldn’t mature and this inability caused his death. Finny does not ever fully mature to adulthood because he CNN not fully lose his innocence.

His childlike innocence, his denial of the war, and inability to accept to truth about what happened in the tree that day results in his death. Finny does loose some innocence by finally accepting the war and telling gene that he can understand that Gene unknowingly Jounced the limb but, he does not ever lose all of his innocence. All of Fanny’s flaws are illustrated when he falls down the stairs and this fall results in his death. The fall showed how he is unable to mature and one who cannot mature will perish. In this case Finn perished in the worst way possible, death.

Jesse
from Nandarnold

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