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How does John Knowles use setting to foreshadow events that happen in A Seprate Peace?

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yb10014 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 26, 2012 at 6:06 PM via web

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How does John Knowles use setting to foreshadow events that happen in A Seprate Peace?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted November 27, 2012 at 5:41 PM (Answer #1)

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A Separate Peace is written during the course of one year, beginning with the summer session at a boys prep school. However, the book is also written from Gene's 30-year-old perspective as he revisits the school. The opening scene has the adult version of Gene walking around the school during a dark and stormy day. The setting's weather is generally associated with the mood and tone of the story; which in this case can also be determined as a foreshadowing of the sad events that are revealed to the reader later. The first few chapters are set during the summertime when the boys are having fun outside in the warmth. Phineas and Gene even go to the beach and sleep there one night. Yet, as chapter 6 starts, summer begins to take its last bow and the Fall moves in and Knowles suggests,

"the Summer Session was over. It had been the school's first, but it was its one hundred and sixty-third Winter Session, and the forces reassembled for it scattered the easygoing summer spirit like so many fallen leaves" (72).

Other references to the weather are made throughout the novel and with each one, a new drama unfolds in the story. This is how Knowles uses setting to foreshadow future events. Finally, Phineas dies in the Winter, a season which almost always represents death; so again, the season is a mood-setter and used to foreshadow a dramatic end.

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