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A Separate Peace. An Introduction & Discussion for Chapter 1. Introduction to the Novel. 2 friends at school one summer in the early years of World War II Begins: Fall of 1958 Flashback: Summer of 1942. World War II. 1939 - 1945 Worldwide conflict involving every major power in the world.

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A separate peace

A Separate Peace

An Introduction & Discussion for Chapter 1

Introduction to the novel
Introduction to the Novel

  • 2 friends at school one summer in the early years of World War II

  • Begins: Fall of 1958

  • Flashback: Summer of 1942

World war ii
World War II

  • 1939 - 1945

  • Worldwide conflict involving every major power in the world.

  • We, America, did not want to be involved in another European War like World War I

  • We tried to help while trying to stay out of the war, but…

  • Bombing of Pearl Harbor sparks our involvement

Life at school
Life at School

  • Sheltered from direct contact with the war

  • Life filled with studies, games, sports, and fun

  • Rest of the world? War!

3 main sources of communication
3 Main Sources of Communication

  • Radio

  • Newspaper – acts as a historical record of the times

  • Word-of-Mouth

    *Pre-age of TV

    *We will be concerned with Newspaper media – the boys would have preferred to maintain their “separate peace” but the news keeps encroaching on their oasis.

Chapter 1
Chapter 1

  • Return to 16/17 initiation years

  • What will he learn from each event?

  • What “wars” are taking place?

    • Internal

    • External Wars!

Differences then vs now
Differences: Then vs. Now

  • School:

    • Before: Vibrant

    • Now: Museum-like; preserved

  • Self:

    • Before: Lived in fear without understanding

    • Now: Able to evaluate the fear and its influence on his life

Why does gene return
Why does Gene return?

  • To compare his emotional status between then and now

What two places does he visit
What two places does he visit?

“There were a couple of places now which I wanted to see. Both were fearful sites, and that was why I wanted to see them” (2).

The academic building
The Academic Building

  • Main Hall / 1st Building

    “In through swinging doors I reached a marble foyer, and stopped at the foot of a long white marble flight of stairs…” (3).

The tree
The Tree

  • “The tree was not only stripped by the cold season, it seemed weary from age, enfeebled, dry, I was thankful, very thankful that I had seen it. So the more things remain the same, the more they change after all – plus c’est la meme chose, plus ca change. Nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not even a death by violence. Changed, I headed back through the mud. I was drenched; anybody could see it was time to come in out of the rain” (6).


  • Summer of 1942

    • “The Tree was tremendous…” (6)

Symbols to watch for
Symbols to Watch For

  • Mud

    • Mud when he jumps

    • Mud in the present

  • Rain/Water

  • Fog – blurs vision – cannot see clearly the things important to him in youth

  • Tree – physical difference (appearances/scars)

John knowles the author
John Knowles – the author

  • Doesn’t linger on the tree

  • Descriptions are packed with religious terms: Steeple, damned, hell

  • What does this suggest about the tree?

The tree1
The Tree

Jump from the Tree

  • Rejection of what aspect of life?

  • Baptism by river (water = cleansing)

  • Before: Gene sticks to rules

  • After: Moves away from them

  • Phineas finny
    Phineas (Finny)

    • Finny = different than Gene

      • Gene makes him into a demi-god

      • Perfect; one to be worshipped

      • Movement flows easily

      • Leader

    • Gene = Follower


    • Gene and Finny

      • How are they alike?

      • How are they different?

    Metaphors to track
    Metaphors to Track

    • The Tree

    • Blitzball and the Snowball Fight

    • Finny’s Clothes

    • The Winter Carnival

    • World War II and Phineas

    The assignment
    The Assignment

    • Analyze each of the symbols as you read

    • What does each stand for?

    • Examine/Consider all aspects of each – including rules, activities, etc.


    • Read Chapters 2 and 3 for Friday