Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

American Feelings about War
Although first published in 1959 in England, A Separate Peace is about an earlier period,...

(The entire section is 601 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The values that John Knowles emphasizes in A Separate Peace reveal his belief that an appreciation of nature's wonders is fundamental...

(The entire section is 297 words.)

Literary Style

(Novels for Students)

Point of View
Told in first-person ("I") by Gene Forrester, a man in his thirties recalling his adolescence, A Separate...

(The entire section is 915 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

None of the books John Knowles has written since A Separate Peace has achieved nearly the critical or popular success of his first novel. The...

(The entire section is 472 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

It is a testament to Knowles's ability that a story about relatively privileged young men in the 1940s, written from the perspective of the...

(The entire section is 314 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Novels for Students)

1940s: In the middle of World War II, the United States had compulsory draft registration for young men, most of whom expected to...

(The entire section is 237 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)

Douglas Alley, "Teaching Emerson Through A Separate Peace," in English Journal, January, 1981, pp. 19-23


(The entire section is 374 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Bell, Hallman B. A Separate Peace. Boston: Twayne, 1990. A collection of critical essays that give an excellent overall view of Knowles’s novel. Includes a useful bibliography.

Flum, Hanoch, and Harriet Porton. “Relational Processes and Identity Formation in Adolescence: The Example of A Separate Peace.” Genetic, Social, and General Monographs 121 (November, 1995): 369-390. The authors view the process of identity formation through the lens of the story of an adolescent boy’s experiences during World War II at a boarding school in New Hampshire. Using the events of the book as examples of the necessary connections that are essential to the process of development, the authors explore male adolescent growth.

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. How do the boys at Devon feel about the adults they know?

2. Why and how is the school and its setting important for Gene and...

(The entire section is 94 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. What is the "separate peace" that Gene feels he has achieved? How has it affected the rest of his life?

2. Find several...

(The entire section is 151 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Explore the reasons for the American involvement in World War II. Compare the American degree of popular support to that of such other wars...

(The entire section is 86 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

In 1972 A Separate Peace was filmed by Paramount. The studio was unable to find a writer or director with the requisite cinematic...

(The entire section is 137 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Novels for Students)

A Separate Peace was adapted as a film directed by Larry Peerce, starring John Heyl and Parker Stevenson, Paramount Pictures, 1972,...

(The entire section is 69 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)

Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger's famous novel about Holden Caulfield's troubled adolescence and the phoniness he detects in adults, is in...

(The entire section is 142 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Ellis, James. "A Separate Peace: The Fall from Innocence." English Journal 53 (May 1964): 313-318. A good character study of...

(The entire section is 239 words.)