A Separate Peace by John Knowles

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In A Separate Peace, what is the point of the rivers being described as they are?

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Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The two rivers in the book are described in symbolic ways. The Devon School sits between two rivers, the Devon and the the Naguamsett. The Devon is described as a place of fun, and it is the river into which Phineas leaps from his canoe. Later, it is the place in which the boys jump from a tall branch into the water and where Phineas has his accident.  

The other river, the Naguamsett, is a saline river whose movements are mysterious. Gene describes it in the following way: "its movements were governed by unimaginable factors like the Gulf Stream, the Polar Ice Cap, and the moon." The boys...

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shizza123 | Student

The Devon River may represent the pureness of Finny while the Naguamsett may represent the Gene's heart which is full of hatred.

Also, after having pushed Finny, Gene never sets foot in the Devon. it is almost like he is sinful, and simply can't do it.

But, without any intentions, he does end up in the Naguamsett after his fight with Quackenbush. This is almost like his baptism into his sinful and guiltful life.

:)

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