What is the mood in A Separate Peace

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The mood of a story is the feeling that a piece of literature evokes in the reader. Throughout the novel A Separate Peace , Knowles tells a story about a man named Gene reminiscing about his past childhood friendship with Finny and illustrates Gene's conflicting emotions as an adolescent attending...

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The mood of a story is the feeling that a piece of literature evokes in the reader. Throughout the novel A Separate Peace, Knowles tells a story about a man named Gene reminiscing about his past childhood friendship with Finny and illustrates Gene's conflicting emotions as an adolescent attending the Devon School. The majority of the novel focuses on Gene's misguided feelings towards Finny, the consequences of making Finny fall from a tree, concealing his true emotions, and preparing to enter World War II with his classmates. Since Finny dies as a result of the injury suffered from his fall, Gene feels responsible for his friend's death and returns to Devon as an adult to make peace with his past. The mood throughout much of the novel is melancholy and anxious, which reflects Gene's adolescent feelings of guilt and his anxiety about being exposed as Finny's secret enemy. Despite Gene's initial feelings of jealousy and inferiority, he experiences a sense of peace after defeating his "rival" and gaining self-assurance.

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Mood is the emotional atmosphere or quality within the story.  Since A Separate Peace is a longer text, the mood shifts as the story develops.  Much of the emotional quality of the story depends upon the central character, Gene, and  his emotions and feelings influence the mood of the story.  For example, the novel opens as Gene returns to Devon, and the mood of the opening chapter is decidedly grim and dark as he revisits areas of the school that feel haunted to him, particularly the tree. 

Later in the novel, the mood grows increasingly dark as Gene's feelings of paranoia and insecurity consume him.  Contrastingly, after Phineas' accident, the mood shifts as Gene's feelings of guilt, remorse, and confusion consume him.  By the end of the novel as the boys go their separate ways to join World War II, the mood remains dark; only as Gene reminisces about Finny does the mood brighten to reflect his innocence and zeal for life.

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