What details does the author use to show the ways in which war is changing the atmosphere at Devon in A Separate Peace?  Chapters 6-10

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The war first makes its incursion into the atmosphere at Devon in small ways, "beginning almost humorously with announcements about maids and days spent at apple picking" (Ch.7).  The winter session begins with the reestablishment of rigid discipline and precision.  It is announced that "maids (have) disappeared 'for the Duration'", and of the returning faculty, Mr. Pike appears "in his Naval ensign's uniform", and it is discovered that "five of the younger teachers (are) missing, gone into the war" (Ch.6). 

The war begins to touch the students' lives directly with the first snows, which approach "like noiseless invaders conquering because they (take) possession so gently".  The boys are called to help with the local apple crops, which are "threatening to rot because the harvesters (have) all gone into the army or war factories".  Then, when the railroads are paralyzed by heavy snow, "two hundred volunteers (are) solicited to spend the day shoveling...as part of the Emergency Usefulness Policy".  The reality of the war is emphatically brought home when the students, who have just finished clearing the track, stand aside to greet the first incoming train.  It is a troop train, populated by young soldiers not much older than the Devon boys, who, although they "are probably just recruits...(give) the impression of being an elite as they are carried past...drab ranks" (Ch.7).

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beginning in chapter 6, Knowles writes, "Peace had deserted Devon," as the Winter Session begins with five of the younger teachers missing because they had left for war (35). The boys also notice Mr. Pike wearing his naval uniform at Devon's opening ceremony. In the next chapter, the students help in the war effort by harvesting the local apple crop because the harvesters have either enlisted in the army or gone to work in war factories. The students also volunteer to shovel snow from the railroads as part of the Emergency Usefulness policy. They watch as the young recruits in their uniforms pass by in cars after they cleared the tracks. Gene also mentions that the boys at Devon continually discuss whether or not they should enlist early in order to avoid being drafted into an unwanted branch of the military. In chapter 9, Leper Lepellier is the first to enlist and humorous rumors begin to circulate about his fantastic military accomplishments throughout the Butt Room. Leper decided to join after watching a fascinating presentation about ski troops in the Army. Clearly, Devon is becoming a hotbed for recruiting, which intrigues the impressionable students. Many students throughout Devon think about their future in the armed forces and dream of becoming military heroes.

Read the study guide:
A Separate Peace

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question