19 January 2014
There are various symbols encased in the writing of A Separate Peace. Throughout the novel, the reader is shown the school life of a boy named Gene and his best friend Finny. The book begins with Gene returning to Devon, the boarding school he attended, after 15 years. Gene has a flashback to 1942, where he goes through every detail leading up to the death of Finny. Symbols are a major characteristic in A Separate Peace because the Summer and Winter Sessions, the tree, and Finny’s broken leg all play equally important roles in the plot of the story. The Summer and Winter Sessions are main symbols in this novel. In the Summer Session, life at Devon was simple and consisted of carefree, youthful adventures with friends. When the Summer Session comes to an end, the boys at Devon receive a rude awakening. As winter arrives, the strict rules and the war come with it. Just like the weather, the mood at Devon changes drastically.
When returning to Devon, Gene considers the tree to be a fearful site. As a student, Gene felt the tree was “tremendous, an irate, steely black steeple beside the river” (6).However, after revisiting the tree as a grown adult, Gene finds that it seems smaller and is no longer an opposing threat. Gene also realizes that though the tree had remained unchanged, he himself has changed. Gene no longer lives in fear of the tree that held many painful memories of Devon and its trauma while he was attending school there. Finny and Gene’s friendship is put to the ultimate test after Finny breaks his leg. Not only does Gene feel the guilt of causing the injury, but just like Finny’s leg, the boys feel their friendship may have a break in it. The two face betrayal and suspicion when Gene suspects Finny has been out to get him throughout the duration of their friendship. However, after forgiving each other, Gene and Finny feel their friendship may be stronger than ever, that is until Finny takes another fall. After Finny’s second fall, this time down the marble stairs, the