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A Separate Peace by John Knowles. John Knowles. Born in Fairmont, West Virginia, 26 Sept. 1926 Parents originally from Massachusetts. “New England to them, was the place to go if you wanted an education, “ J. Knowles. Attended Exeter Academy

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john knowles
John Knowles
  • Born in Fairmont, West Virginia, 26 Sept. 1926
  • Parents originally from Massachusetts.
    • “New England to them, was the place to go if you wanted an education, “ J. Knowles.
    • Attended Exeter Academy
    • Not the best student at first. He arrived at Exeter at age 15 never having seen the school.
    • Knuckled down and began studying!
    • Attended a summer session at Exeter in 1943. This experience was the inspiration for, A Separate Peace.
after exeter
After Exeter
  • Spent 8 months as a pilot in the Army Air Corps
  • Enrolled in Yale University in 1949
  • Post Yale, Editor/Drama Critic for The Hartford Courant
  • Then Editor at Haliday, a travel magazine
  • Unsettled, so he began to write fiction.
  • Urged by Thornton Wilder, a school friend, he began to write about his most vivid memories, prompting Knowles to work on A Separate Peace.
  • Worked on the book throughout the 1950’s.
  • Published A Separate Peace in 1960.
post a separate peace
Post A Separate Peace
  • Because of the books great success, Knowles quit his job at Haliday and became a full-time novelist!
  • A Separate Peace would prove to be Knowles’ greatest work.
  • Knowles told an interviewer that he did not mind having his reputation rest on a single book. “It’s paid the bills for 30 years,” he said.
  • The book is still widely read 50 years after its publication.
new england prep schools
New England Prep Schools
  • Prep schools have a long history in the U.S., particularly in New England where the most prestigious still thrive.
  • Prep schools had an original purpose of preparing the children of wealthy families for their matriculation into the Ivy League.
  • While acceptance today is still competitive, prep school are known less for the jump to the Ivy League, and more for academic rigor, wide extra-curricular experiences and boarding.
  • Graduates still seem to attend top universities!
  • Exeter became Knowles’ inspiration for Devon School in A Separate Peace.
phillips exeter academy
Phillips Exeter Academy

Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire

think about
Think About
  • Hardey Preparatory School for Boys is a prep school. How might it be different than New England prep schools?
  • How would I describe the academic standards of Hardey Prep?
  • What extracurricular activities am I offered at Hardey prep?
  • For what does prep school prepare me?
putting the novel in context
Putting the Novel in Context
  • The WWII Draft
    • In A Separate Peace, the boys are constantly preparing themselves to join the war effort.
    • The draft is always being discussed.
      • Volunteering vs. being drafted is a huge issue.
      • What do you think?
exeter academy during wwii
Exeter Academy During WWII
  • From the Exeter Bulletin, 1942
    • Over 800 graduates have reported to service, and that list is far from complete.
    • 20 members of the staff have entered government service – either military, naval or scientific.
    • The Academy curriculum was revised to permit more flexibility of choice.
    • American History was made a required subject.
    • Classes in First Aid were conducted by the Athletic Department
    • Fraternities were abolished.
major theme friendship
Major Theme: Friendship

What does it mean to be “Friends”?

  • One attached to another by affection or esteem.
  • One that is not hostile, one that is of the same nation, party, or group.
  • A favored companion.

(Meriam-Webster Dictionary)

the complications of friendship
The Complications of Friendship
  • Based on the previous definition, be on the lookout for issues that complicate friendship:
    • Jealousy
    • Confusion
    • Mistrust
ask yourself
Ask Yourself
  • Do I have a friend of whom I am jealous?
  • Do I think that friendship can survive in the face of jealousy?
  • Think of a person in your life with a unique world view.
    • What do you admire about his or her approach to life?
    • What do you find hard to understand?

Steppenwolf Theatre

A Separate Peace

24 February 2010

Enjoy the Play!