Alright, so here is my Canadian Grade 11 Separate Peace essay in which we had to write about whatever thesis we chose. Can you please help me find stupid grammar, spelling, awkward/run on sentences and quotes? Also please tell me if some ideas/arguments seem weak. Thank you for the help.
January 8th, 2009
World War II in "A Separate Peace"
"A Separate Peace" takes place during World War II in 1943, a time of great uncertainty and changing lifestyles but the danger of this war never really seems to come near Devon. So does this terrible environment and events affect the characters of a Separate Peace or just provide a safe and surreal environment for the characters? The war in a Separate Peace may not directly affect the characters for the majority of the novel but we see its affects on the characters actions indirectly and it ends up greatly affecting the final outcome of the novel. The war also changes the characteristics and attitudes of certain characters of the novel, causing them to adapt and change to create a sort of defense against the impending threat of enlistment in the war. World War II also seems to affect the characters' interactions with others and seems to change the relationships that the characters share with each other. World War II definitely is a major factor in the characters' actions, interactions, and characteristics in the novel and is a major aspect of the novel.
World War II is a major factor in the character's actions in the novel with the distant war affecting the characters' choices and decisions. We can see the effect of the war on the characters' actions when the boys have to do work to replace the workers that have gone off to the war. It is seen when Gene says "Brinker Hadley could compose his Shortest War Poem Ever Written if he wanted to, but all of us had to take stronger action than that" (92). This is referring to how Brinker believes that the war is boring but the students have to do work and chores because of the lack of workers due to the war. The war's affect on the characters is also seen with Leper who enlists in the army. Indeed, Leper tells the boys at the gathering "I am going to enlist in these ski troops" (127), after hearing a speech from an army officer. This is something that is unexpected since Leper would never want to part with the nature and peacefulness at Devon, yet the war manages to prompt this action from Leper. The effect of the war on the characters' actions is also seen when Phineas invents his theory about the war being fake but this is due to the fact that he can not enlist in the war and he wants to hide his disappointment seen in the line "I'll hate it everywhere if I am not in this war! Why do you think I kept saying there wasn't any war all winter?" (190). This basically shows that the entire story that Phineas invents is to distance himself from the disappointment of not being accepted for recruitment in the war. The effect of the war on the characters' actions is seen throughout the novel with many more examples and this is a main reason that the war plays such a huge role in the actions of the characters in the novel.
World War II also has a noticeable effect on the characteristics of certain characters in the story and this is a major force in driving the story to its eventual end. A great example of the war's affect on the characteristics of a character is seen with Leper who is a shy, timid, and peace loving boy before his voluntary enlistment in the war. After the war, we see that Leper is very aggressive in his treatment of others and even the nature that he loves could not calm him down after his experience in the war. This new found "aggression" of Leper's is seen in the mock court where he refuses to give the name of the person who shook the branch saying "You always did take me for a fool, didn't you? But I'm no fool anymore."(176). Here we see that Leper actually stands up for himself, something that he would never have done before his experience in the war. The war also affects Brinker as he decides to adopt a deep hatred towards the war to defend himself from the terror that is war. This is seen in the second last paragraph with Gene's comment "or else, like Brinker, develop a careless resentment towards it" (204) which refers to Brinker's dislike of the war. The war also prompts the main characters of the story to develop a sort of defense in their characteristics to deal with the war seen with the closing remark by older Gene in the last chapter. Older Gene notes "All of them, all except Phineas, constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy they thought they saw across the frontier" (204). This refers to the characters' attitudes towards the hardship of war and their "enemies" and how the war affected their mentality and changed them. It can indeed be seen that the war has an effect, not only on the characters' actions, but their characteristics and attitudes and this aspect of the affect of war plays a major role in the book.
While World War II may seem to play a major role in the characters' actions and attitudes, it also plays a major role in how characters in the novel interact with other characters in the novel. This effect of the war can be quiet clearly seen with Phineas who, disappointed at not being accepted into any army, decides to adopt a view in which he does not accept that the war exists when talking to anybody else. Indeed we see this when he is in the infirmary and tells Gene "Why do you think I kept saying there wasn't any war all winter? I was going to keep saying it until two seconds after I got a letter from Ottawa or Chungking or some place saying 'Yes, you can enlist with us' "(190). This shows that Phineas is pretending that there exists no war because of his disappointment in the rejection of his application. The change in interaction with others due to the war is also seen with Leper who is more hostile towards others after his experience in the army where before he was much more quiet and friendly. The change in attitudes towards others due to the war is also seen with Brinker who begins to resent his dad for his ideas towards war. This resentment is seen where Gene says "He did know his father, however, and so they were not getting along well now." (201). This is in reference to Brinker's complaint that his father's generation had caused the war and their generation had to fight it and we see that this war is a major reason for why Brinker resents his father. As it can be seen, the war is a definite factor in the way that the characters in the novel interact with each other and the war affects these interactions and relationships in adverse ways.
In a Separate Peace, we see that the war has a very adverse effect on the characters of the novel as well as affecting the plot and the events that take place in the novel. The war plays a crucial role in affecting the characters' actions and decisions in the novel, often leading characters to take unexpected decisions outside of their quality traits. As well as affecting the character's decisions, the war also affects the characters' personalities and characteristics, changing them in ways unexpected in the novel. The war also affects how the characters' interact with other people in the novel, how they respond to certain events in the novel, and how the relationships change among certain characters in the novel. In a Separate Peace, the war is a major driving force behind the characters' actions and responses to events that occur, and this also shows that it can be seen as a major theme in the novel.
Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. Scribner: New York, 2003.