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A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Author John Knowles. Born in 1926 in West Virginia Best known works are set in New England. Knowles’ Childhood. Parents were originally from Massachusetts. Knowles spent many summer vacations there.

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A separate peace by john knowles

A Separate Peaceby John Knowles

Author john knowles
Author John Knowles

  • Born in 1926 in West Virginia

  • Best known works are set in New England

Knowles childhood
Knowles’ Childhood

  • Parents were originally from Massachusetts.

  • Knowles spent many summer vacations there.

  • At the age of fifteen, Knowles applied to an elite New Hampshire boarding school, Phillips Exeter Academy. (The school in the novel is thought to be modeled after this one.)

John knowles continued
John Knowles continued…

  • Knowles expresses his affections and (somewhat) fond memories for his boarding school in A Separate Peace.

  • Soon after Knowles entered Exeter, the U.S. declared war on Japan and entered World War II.

  • Knowles went into the military after he graduated from high school and trained to be a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Force Aviation Program.

  • When the war ended, he attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

World war ii
World War II

  • Began in 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland, and officially ended in August 1945, when the Japanese surrendered.

  • A Separate Peace takes place during the summer of 1942, directly in the center of World War II.

  • In America:

  • In order to cope with the war, America instituted rations on books, sugar, coffee, and other goods.

  • To conserve gasoline, a national 35 MPH speed limit was implemented, and driving for pleasure was banned.

  • By the summer of 1942, many Americans realized that the war was far from over.

A separate peace by john knowles

  • Called a “World” war because a majority of the world’s nations split into one of two opposing sides:

    • Allies- included Russia, U.S.A, United Kingdom, and China.

    • Axis- included Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan

World war ii1
World War II

  • One of the most devastating wars in history.

  • Loss of human life estimated at 72 million.

  • Two-thirds of victims were civilians.

  • Holocaust victims numbered in the millions.

U s involvement
U.S. Involvement

  • The U.S. entered the World War after Pearl Harbor. American leaders were angry because Japan attacked after they said they would not.

  • Cities that were devastated by the Atomic bomb: Hiroshima and Naga Saki

  • Fear of war caused many Americans to turn a blind eye to the conflicts overseas.

  • Pearl Harbor changed everything.

  • 1940 brought the first peacetime draft in the nation’s history.

    • Men 21-35 years of age were required to register for military service.

    • The age was then lowered to eighteen.


  • Many young men couldn’t wait to be drafted; patriotism was at an all-time high.

  • Teenagers often felt it was their duty to enlist.

Patriotism and change
Patriotism and Change

  • The war brought changes to the American economy and lifestyle.

    • Need for weapons created jobs.

    • Americans attended rallies, bought war bonds, conserved fuel and rubber by car pooling, and planted “victory gardens.”

  • In short, American life, as it had been, changed “for the duration”- a phrase that meant “until the end of the war.”


  • Imagine going to high school while one of the deadliest and most devastating wars in history was happening.

  • How would it affect you? Would your life be any different?

The war in iraq
The War in Iraq

  • How has the war in Iraq affected you? (Has it affected you at all?)

  • Have the news stories and pictures affected your life or view of the world?

A separate peace
A Separate Peace

  • The novel was first published in England in 1959 and in the U.S. in 1960.

  • It proved to be such a success that Knowles was able to resign from his job and devote his time to writing and travel.

  • He wrote many other novels, none as successful as A Separate Peace.


  • Devon School in New Hampshire

  • The central story begins less than a year after December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii.

A separate peace1
A Separate Peace

  • War is in the background of this “bubble” – it affects the boys, but not directly

    • Main characters are juniors.

    • They attend an elite private boarding school.


  • a story in the present that refers back to an event(s) that occurred in the past.

    In ASP- starts in the present with Gene returning to his school and remembering a happening that occurred 15 years previously.