" It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it" To what extent does this apply to the boys' experience at Devon school

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you look at the experience of the major characters Gene and Finny, or even Leper, you will realize the truth of this quotation.  Gene is shackled with jealousy of Finny from the beginning of the story.  He cannot enjoy the exuberance and joy that Finny brings to Devon.  He secretly hopes that Finny gets into trouble as a result of his antics, and later he jostles the tree limb that causes Finny's fall.  This guilt persists throughout the novel and causes Gene much pain.  In fact, most the novel consists of Gene's attempt to atone his guilt.  This accident is the beginning of Finny's disillusionment with life.  He will never be able to play sports again, and he will eventually have to face the fact that his situation was caused by his best friend.  Even Leper's situation at Devon is one of sadness and loneliness.  As a result, he enlists in the army where he is hopelessly ill-equipped to withstand the pressure.  Either because of  jealously, guilt, betrayal, or alienation, the boys in the novel do not have a blissful youthful existence.

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A Separate Peace

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