In A Separate Peace, Gene identifies closely with the war. What is one statement that shows this?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gene's memory of his time at Devon begins in the summer of 1942. This was the last time the boys were really free to be young. When classes resumed for the fall session, many aspects of Devon were different because, as the boys often heard, "There's a war on." Throughout the novel, Knowles parallels Gene's personal turmoil with the boys' growing awareness of the reality of the war. At the conclusion of the novel, Gene makes the connection between the war and what happened to the boys at Devon:

When they began to feel that there was this overwhelmingly hostile thing in the world with them, then the simplicity and unity of their characters broke and they were not the same again.

Gene then identifies with the war in the most personal way; he finds a similarity between World War II and the war that had raged within himself at Devon, the reason he struck out at Finny, blindly, that afternoon in the tree:

Because it seemed clear that wars were not made by generations and their special stupidities, but that wars were made instead by something ignorant in the human heart.

In recognizing this truth, Gene understands his own actions, how his own fear and self-hatred compelled him to strike out at the friend he loved the most. With understanding comes peace.


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A Separate Peace

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