Illustration of two pairs of legs standing on the branch of a large tree

A Separate Peace

by John Knowles

Start Free Trial

How does Gene describe his memories of the war years?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Gene happened to enlist in the war near the end, so he never went over-seas and he never saw any fighting.  He was in a group that was moved between different places here in the United States to learn about new technology and figure out where they could be of use in the war. Gene describes it thus:

"The closer victory came the faster we were shuttled around America in pursuit of a role to play in a drama which suddenly, underpopulated from the first, now had too many actors. Or so it seemed. . ."

"So journeys through unknown parts of America became my chief war memory" (139).

The most descriptions given in the novel about Gene's war experience are found at the beginning of chapter ten. He doesn't end the novel with his war experience because more importance was placed on his friendship with Finny and Finny's death. However, it is interesting that Gene's memories of the war are presented before he finds out about Leper's experiences.  This juxtaposition seems to bring an interesting contrast between the two characters so the reader can examine the fact that everyone had a different experience with the war.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial