In Chapter 7 of A Separate Peace, there are several snowfalls in the Devon School area that cause the railroad tracks to be covered. Gene describes this snowfall as the war's "advance guard" because it makes the war nearer for the boys, among whom is Brinker who has recently written his "Shortest War Poem": "The War/is a bore," and when the boys picked apples another silly poem, "Our chore/Is the core/Of the war.
Now, however two hundred volunteers are requested to spend in order to help shovel out New England for the war, Gene narrates. At first the boys thing the Boston and Maine Railroad simply wants their lines cleared; however, as the boys get ready to hail the engineer and passengers, they discern that the passengers are alike. It is a troop train that the Devon boys have freed. This event stirs the patriotism of the boys. Brinker declares that he is going to enlist "Tomorrow."
But, Quackenbush has decided that he will not be "half-cocked" like others. Instead he will earn his high school diploma and advance into the army "step by step." With this declaration, voices of ridicule sound, one of which derogatorily calls him a "Kraut spy," short for sauerkraut, a food many Germans eat, Kraut is an ethical epithet used by U.S. soldiers. As the insults continue, another student remarks,
"I thought they interned all Quackenbushes the day after Pearl Harbor."
Pearl Harbor, of course, is the U.S. naval base in Hawaii attacked on December 7, 1941, by the Japanese, an act that effected the entry of America into World War II. Here in Chapter 7, the name of the naval base is used to refer to the event of the Japanese attack.