Outstanding Book Project
By: Seth Holm

A Separate Peace by John Knowles.
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A Separate Peace is an American classic written by John Knowles and has touched the hearts of many people by telling us about the struggles of young men preparing to enter World War II.

About the Author:

In 1926, John Knowles was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, and as a young boy attended Phillips Exeter Academy, which is a lot like the fictional boys school, Devon, that he writes about in A Separate Peace. Knowles graduated from Exeter in 1945 and joined the U.S. Army Air Force’s Aviatexternal image John%20Knowles.gifion Cadet Program to join in the war effort. After graduating from Yale, he traveled to Europe and was a journalist until around 1955 and wrote numerous short stories. When he returned to the United States, John Knowles became an editor and with encouragement from co-workers, started working on A Separate Peace. This was his first published novel, and his most successful of his eight other books. Before retiring, he gave many lectures at various schools across the country and wrote a travel book along with publishing his short stories. On November 29th, 2001, John Knowles passed away and became a historic novelist known for his say on youth and war that few novelists have attempted to write about.

Synopsis and Summary:

A Separate Peace starts with our main character, Gene Forrester, as he is visiting the boy’s boarding school, Devon, he attended as a teenager during World War II. As he is wandering through the campus, he reaches a landmark that he remembers from when he was a kid and heads into a long flashback. Gene and Phineas are very good friends and roommates, but there is
John Knowles
a lot of tension between them and they are always trying to figure out what the other one is thinking. When Phineas breaks his leg falling out of a tree, there is a lot of suspicion to how it happened and that will come back later in the novel. The boys have fun in summer session, but when the school year rolls around, things go back to regular boring classes. All of the young men at Devon have a huge choice to make about their possible enlistment in the war and their efforts. D
uring all of these decisions, a lot of drama is taking place inside the walls of Devon.


What worked in the book: The progress from one little incident among boys to the deep and evil ending made it suspenseful and kept you reading. Also, the foreshadowing gave it a mysterious and eerie feeling to it and the book never lets you down.

What didn’t work: Throughout the book there were lapses in the suspense that only consisted of descriptive writing which bored me.

Why is this book Outstanding?

A Separate Peace is a novel concerning the dark side of adolescence and the normal lives of boys attending a border school. Underneath their everyday school lives and their preparation for the war, lays perception and the desire to be on top. Gene is intricate and knows how to name his feelings just as when he states “My fury was gone, I felt it gone, dried up at the source, withered and lifeless” (Knowles 203). As well as being underground and hidden, the jealousy of anyone who is higher than them creates hate and the want for a light revenge. Even if they don’t know it…

Literary Information:

Title: A Separate Peace
Author: John Knowles
Writing Style: deep, intricate
Setting: Pennsylvania during WWII
Genre: tragedy, adventure

Works Cited:

Knowles, John. A Separate peace. 1959. New York, NY.

John Knowles Biography. http://www.gradesaver.com/author/john-knowles/

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