A Separate Peace Questions and Answers
by John Knowles

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How does Finny and Gene's story relate to the war in A Separate Peace, by John Knowles?

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The backdrop for A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, is World War II, but it is also a hovering presence in the lives of every character. The teachers at Devon school this year are only old men because the younger men are off to war; all older boys are training for war as well as studying their lessons; the younger boys are trying to act normal in a world which is anything but normal. The relationship between Finny and Gene is a kind of microcosm of the war that is raging in the world outside of Devon school. Even more, once Finny is hurt, a new war rages inside Gene.

There is no exact parallel between the boys and specific countries or people (as is true in works like George Orwell's Animal Farm ); however, their relationship is similar to a war. Finny is the boy who goes through life relatively unscathed by everything that happens around him; he is naturally athletic and charismatic, and he loves his life and his friends. His motivations are fairly transparent: he wants to have fun and he...

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