How did the school schedule change as a result of the war? Why do you think this was necessary?

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For the older students, school became a preparation for combat. Their physical regimen was intensified, and the focus was lifted from academics. Gene describes the changes:

The class above, seniors, draft-bait, practically soldiers, rushed ahead of us toward the war. They were caught up in accelerated courses and first-aid programs and a physical hardening regimen, which included jumping from the tree. We were still calmly, numbly reading Virgil and playing tag in the river further downstream.

Although the younger boys are not directly impacted by battle, their lives are still altered. Substitute teachers, often much older than the regular faculty, are brought in when teachers are drafted. Thus, the boys draw further away from the faculty and closer to each other. Maid service is cancelled, and there are shortages of many materials. When the boys return from the summer, their own schedules include the more active physical regimen that they saw the previous year. Now jumping out of the tree becomes analogous to fleeing a sinking ship. In the pool, they learn to slap the water to avoid oil fires.

The logic behind these changes was to prepare boys for boot camp & have them ready even earlier. At the beginning of the war, there is a shortage of soldiers, and boys were being drafted as quickly as possible. The better prepared they already were, the more quickly they could be shipped off. Ironically, by the time Gene enlists, there are too many men in the military, & Gene never sees combat.

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A Separate Peace

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