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A Separate Peace

by John Knowles
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What is an allusion in the book A Separate Peace?  

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Allusions are cultural or historical references specific to the time period in which the book is set. For example, if you were writing a story set during the present time, you might reference President Obama or Peyton Manning. Any specific pop culture reference or reference to a specific historical or...

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Allusions are cultural or historical references specific to the time period in which the book is set. For example, if you were writing a story set during the present time, you might reference President Obama or Peyton Manning. Any specific pop culture reference or reference to a specific historical or political event, or even the names of books, movies, songs, etc. can be used as allusions. Allusions help works of fiction, especially, seem more realistic, and they give readers a sense of the time period without the author having to explicitly state the year.

A Separate Peace contains many allusions. Since the novel is mostly set during the early 1940s, right in the middle of World War II, there are many allusions to the war. For example, in Chapter 3, the boys invent a game called "blitzball" which they name after a "blitzkrieg," the name given to German firebombing during WWII.

In the same chapter, Gene mentions in his narrations:

"The war was and is reality for me, I still instinctively live and think in its atmosphere. These are some of its characteristics: Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the President of the United States, and he always has been. The other two eternal world leaders are Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin" (Knowles 17).

FDR, Churchill, and Stalin are all examples of allusions that Knowles includes to set the time period of his book and make it seem more realistic. Even though A Separate Peace is a work of fiction, each of these historical figures was real.

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