Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Notes Number 2

Page 63: Gene describes the feeling and weather of the first day of school without Finny, Some teachers have been drafted
Page 64: Devon rules forgotten about during the summer, set back in place, strict rules once again
Page 71: The boys took advantage of the summer, and the dorms went downhill, no more
Page 80: War big part of Devon School, boys help out in effort by picking apples, Gene talked about the coming of snow
Page 84: Boys dig out a train full of troops stuck in snow, in their help with war while still being in school
Page 111: Gene describes the winter and how it is depressing
Page 121: Gene travels to Leper’s house in Vermont, “roaming” the country side
Page 137: More students from Devon are enlisting into the war
Page 162: Gene compares the war at Devon to WWII to try and find comfort
Page 171: Gene is going to enlist into the Navy
Page 172: Brinker is going to enlist as well, Brinker’s father talks about enlisting and the respect and memories that comes with it
In the second half of the book, Knowles talks about the time period more than the actual location, unlike the first half of the book. WWII comes up a lot during the second half of the book and becomes the backdrop of the story. The students help out people for those who have gone to war. For example, all the farmers have gone to war so the boys pick their crops. As well a lot of students consider enlisting and some do during the school year. The main characters however wait to finish their schooling before enlisting.  As well seasons come into play as the winter session at Devon begins; Gene talks about the winter time being a depressing time.
Page 65: Class leaders take their place, introduced to Brinker Hadley who is the most dominant student
Page 67: Introduced to Cliff Quackenbush, crew manager, Gene doesn’t like him for no real reason
Page 70: Introduced to Mr. Ludsbury who is in charge of the dorms
Page 72: Finny calls long-distance to make sure Gene saved his spot as his roommate
Page 73: Finny surprised Gene isn’t doing any sports, Gene doesn’t want to as it leads him to war
Page 75: Naguansett River baptised Gene on the first day of winter session
Page 76: Everybody likes Brinker
Page 82: Leper believes everyone speeds through life not noticing the little stuff
Page 87: Brinker wants to enlist the next day
Page 88: Gene is to enlist with Brinker the next day
Page 89: Gene goes into his dorm to find Finny has returned
Page 90: Finny and Gene catch up and joke around
Page 91: Gene and Finny have grown a little apart, such as their ideas on the war are different
Page 95: Gene, Brinker and Finny joke around, with Finny’s return peace had returned to Devon for Gene
Page 98: Finny always wants to enter a room full of energy, especially sense he is using crutches
Page 99: Finny tells Gene about the Olympic dream he had and tells Gene is going to be there instead of him with Finny coaching him
Page 100: Finny says the war is not real, just a government scheme
Page 102: Gene discovers the bitterness in Finny’s personality
Page 103: Finny only believes in peace, Gene never believes in anything if there is some doubt
Page 104: Finny starts training Gene, Finny helps Gene unleash the laziness of his body, Gene discovers the magnificence of working your body to the max
Page 105: through running, Gene feels loss of self-pitty
Page 106: Finny gets very emotional when the war comes up
Page 107: Gene starts to see inside of Finny’s mind and his idea of peace, Leper enlists
Page 110: Finny starts to pull Gene away from his other friends to train for the Olympics
Page 111: Finny doesn’t find any weather depressing
Page 112: Finny comes up with idea for a winter carnival, Brinker not quite the same since failing to enlist
Page 113: Brinker withdrew from all school activities, tough minded version of himself
Page 117: Finny signals the start of the games for the winter carnival
Page 127: Leper states that Gene has a terribe temper with no self-control but underneath there is a good boy
Page 132: Gene finds Finny in the middle of a snowball fight
Page 134: Finny doesn’t let his broken leg slow him down
Page 140: Gene is tutoring Finny in school work, Finny tutoring Gene in sports
Page 141: Finny never believed in war until he saw Leper, crazy
Page 142: Leper back at Devon, but still crazy
Page 157: Gene goes to the window of the room Finny is in and tries to listen in on what the doc is saying
Page 163: Finny not acting the same to Gene, not friendly nor non-friendly
Page164: Find out Finny has been trying to enlist all winter but no one will take him because of his leg
Page 166: Gene remembers everything he did in detail, they day Finny died
Page 167: Gene did not cry hearing about Finny’s Death, as he felt it was his own funeral
Page 169: Gene will not talk about what cannot be changed
Page 170: Introduced to Brinker’s Father
Page 175: Gene schooling now over, Gene is no longer full of hate or furry, his war ended with Finny’s death
Page 176: Everyone hated someone at Devon, except Finny did not hate anyone
In the second half of the book we are introduced to some new characters and a change in personality in the other ones. The most important character we are introduced to in the second half of the book is Brinker. Brinker is the most popular guy in school and is liked by everybody. During the course of the year Brinker starts to evaluate things differently and leads us to the main climax of the story; when Finny realizes it was Gene who shook him out of the tree. We also learn more about the main characters of the story. We discover the bitterness in Finny, as well as what seems to be his vision of peace. However we later mind out that Finny does not accept things as being real unless he sees for his own eyes and he can participate in it, such as WWII. I believe we learn the most about Gene, we discover his temper and lack of self-control as he fights Cliff and hits Leper. Luckily for Gene, when Finny died, he took all the anger out of Gene with him.
Page 61: Gene builds the nerve to tell Finny he caused the accident, Finny doesn’t believe him
Page 62: Gene realizes telling Finny the truth will hurt him worse than the actually accident, decides to go back to lying
Page 69: Gene fights Cliff, Gene feels like Finny’s defender
Page 74: Finny tells Gene he has to play sports for him since he cannot
Page 77: Brinker accuses Gene of causing Finny’s fall, Gene gets angry
Page 78: Gene able to play the acquisition off as a joke
Page 93: Finny does not agree with the idea of enlisting, Gene back pedals his plans with Brinker to enlist
Page 96: Gene talks about “traps” for Finny around the school because he is crippled
Page 97: Finny tries to convince Gene to skip class, Gene says no, but they end up skipping
Page 101: Finny and Gene argue over the war and how it exists
Page 119: Gene receives a telegram from Leper who needs help
Page 123-131: Gene goes to Leper’s house. Leper insults Gene, Gene loses his temper and hits Leper, after realizing Leper has gone crazy, Gene runs away back to Devon as he can’t deal with Leper and his craziness
Page 138-139: Brinker says Finny will develop self-pity the way Gene is treating him, and everything about the accident should be brought out to the open
Page 143-159: In the middle of the night Brinker and a few boys take Gene and Finny to the First Building where they review the facts of what happened on Finny’s fall, after investigation Finny realizes Gene purposely shook the tree, Finny leaves upset crying, Finny falls down the stairs re-breaking his leg, the boys run to go get the appropriate people to help Finny, Finny taken to the infirmary, Gene breaks into the room to see Finny who is really angry still so Gene leaves
Very early in the second half of the book, Gene learns that he cannot tell Finny the truth about his fall as it would it hurt him more than the actually accident. So Gene and Finny decide to not talk about it. However Brinker has his suspicions and takes Gene and Finny in for questioning. During this time Finny, with some help from Leper, is able to recall the accident that Gene caused. 
Page 68: Cliff matured faster than all the other boys in his grade
Page 85: boys amongst heroic men, boys talked about joining the army
Page 94: Gene realizes the Finny needs him and with that insists he will not enlist
Page 109: Leper enlisted and left for war, he was the unlikely one
Page 114: The boys set up a Winter Carnival
Page 118: The boys get drunk on hard apple cider
Page 132: Gene wanted to see Finny because with him there was no conflict, only peace
Page 165: Finny says he understands and forgives Gene for shaking the tree
Page 174: Gene no longer talks about Finny, but Finny is still a big part of Gene
The theme of the book is about boys coming of age as well as friendship and male bonding. The first theme is boys coming of age which is shown throughout the book. The boys are constantly learning who they are and who they want to become as they decide whether or not to enlist during the school year. You also get the idea of trying to fit in. This is shown during the winter carnival when all the boys get drunk. The drinking of the hard apple cider always relates back to the idea of boys coming of age as they are maturing into adults. The other main theme of the story is male bonding and friendship. Gene and Finny have a strong bond, they are best friends. This was no more apparent than when Gene leaves Leper to find Finny because with Finny, Gene feels at peace as well as comfort.  Their Friendship is even able to overcome Gene shaking Finny out of a tree during a heart-warming conversation which would turn out to be their last. In the end Gene states because of the strong bond they shared, Finny has now become a part of him.
Active Reading:
                For me, this book had simple concepts that were easy to understand, therefore no active reading needed to be done. I had a problem with the book though. I could not accept Finny’s death. I didn’t mind the fact he died, what I did mind was the way he died. It was a simple operation gone horrible wrong. I couldn’t accept that a doctor who finished his education could screw up the simple operation that bad. It does not seem like a realistic way to die and ruined the last 10 pages for me.  However, after doing some research on the internet, I was able to find cases just like Finny all over the place. Including patients who had broken their leg and the bone marrow got into the blood stream during operation, exactly like Finny.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Notes Number 1

Page 9: Looking back 15 years ago, the school looks newer now than it did in the past. Devon school was full of fear
Page 10: Lots of fear due to the war, houses around school look more elegant and more lifeless than ever
Page 11: On school property, white marble stairs seem exceptionally hard, most beautiful school in New England
Page 12: Also visited “the cage”, walked through mud puddles to look at a tree next to the river. Devon school was heavily focused on athletics academics.
Page 14: Flash back to 1942 to tell the story
Page 24: The boys discuss WWII with their teachers
Page 27: The boys talk and joke on their way to the tree, Devon’s property discussed in greater detail
Page 37: America as Gene sees it at age of 16 and continues to see it from living in the moment; low supplies and everyday materials, the war and all other countries seem distant and inaccessible unless you are in the military
Page 41: The boys went to the beach which is forbidden for them to go to. Sun high and bright, waves perfect for surfing
Page 42: A perfect summer’s day, sun hot, big waves, dinner at hotdog stand, walked the board walked, camped on the beach
Page 44: Finny still asleep, Gene wakes up and watches the sunrise, he describes the beauty of the moment
Page 59: Finny is taken to his hometown of Boston for rest. After the summer session and vacation time down south, Gene visits Finny in Boston, the traditional New England style home with a big fireplace.

The novel takes place at Devon School in New Hampshire, which is a boarding school for males, during World War II. Devon school is one of the most beautiful schools in the state. It is well kept and perfectly manicured.  The school also has a strong athletic and academic program, as they prepare the older boys for war. The setting is important as the novel tells a story of boys coming of age and male bonding/ friendship. The setting does not change much. The characters take a trip to the beach and back to their homes, but they end up back at Devon school. 

Page 9: Story told in first person, narrator’s name is Gene.
Page 13: introduced to Phineas aka Finny, a childhood friend who showed no fear
Page 15: Finny scaled the tree by the river and jumped over the bank into the deep water
Page 16: Finny convinces Gene who also makes the hard jump. Finny and Gene are best friends, Finny gets Gene to do things he wouldn’t normally do. Introduced to Leper who is too scared to do the jump and is a “scaredy cat” in general. Introduced to Bobby and Chet, all are a group of friends.
Page 17: Finny never stops talking, Finny and Gene play fight on their way back to dinner.
Page 18: Finny and Gene miss dinner because of the play fighting, they go to their dorm and do school work.
Page20: Introduced to teacher Mr. Prud’homme who noticed the boys were absent from dinner. Finny explains and everything is fine
Page 21: Finny relates jumping out of the tree to getting drafted and shares views on how he sees the war/tree
Page 23: Finny could get away with anything, Finny wore a pink shirt and did not get made fun of
Page 25: Finny accidently wore the school tie as a belt in front of the Masters and got away with it
Page 26: Introduced to Mr. Patch-Withers (current head of school) and his wife who are very stern, but Finny makes them laugh
Page 28: The boys decide to create a suicide society group, you have to jump out of the tree to get in
Page 29: Both Finny and Gene stand on the branch to jump. Gene almost falls but Finny catches him and pretty much saves his life
Page 31:The group met every day even though Gene didn’t feel like going all the time
Page 32: Finny always examines things
Page 33: Finny was bored in gym class so he invented “Blitzball”, a game for him and his friends to play
Page 34: Finny makes up the rules to the game as they go along
Page 35: Blitzball becomes a popular game of choice that summer. Finny loved to be the runner because the odds were against that position. Finny loves to challenge himself and has non-stop energy
Page 36: Everybody Finny meets is attracted to his personality
Page 38: Finny broke the school swimming record just to see if he could do it
Page 39: Finny doesn’t want Gene to tell anyone he broke the record
Page 40: Finny has won all the sportsmanship trophies at school in every sport. Finny wants to go to the beach
Page 48: Gene was an excellent student, Finny was an excellent athlete, Gene sets out to be the top academic student, to pass Chet.
Page 49: Finny was a poor student, Gene was decent athletically
Page 56: Introduced to school Doctor. Doctor tells Gene Finny will be able to walk again but wont be able to play sports. Gene cries for himself and for Finny.
Page 57: Gene and Finny talk for the first time since the accident, Finny believes he just slipped off the branch and is not Gene’s fault
Page 60: Gene and Finny swamp friendly stories about the past couple of months

The two main characters in this novel are best friends. Their names are Finny and Gene. Finny is the more athletic one and is naturally good at every sport. He is a quick thinker and can talk himself out of any trouble he might get himself into. Gene is somewhat athletic himself, but is stronger in the academics. Gene somewhat envies Finny’s ability to get out of any trouble and starts to become jealous of how “perfect” Finny seems. Another character introduced to us is other friends Chet and Leper. Chet is the smartest academically who Gene is competition with to become top in the class (academically). Leper is another boy who they hang out with. Leper has always been too scared to jump out of the tree. 

Page 22: Finny always gets himself into troubled situations but always finds a way out. Finne is a role model student who liked to break the rules.
Page 23: Finny could get away with anything and Gene envied that.
Page 26: After Finny escapes punishment again, Gene is kind of upset that Finny didn’t get in trouble
Page 30: After Finny stopped Gene from falling out of the tree, Gene still blames Finny for almost falling because he wouldn’t have been up there in the first place if it wasn’t for him.
Page 39: Finny broke the swimming record. Is Finny just trying to impress Gene? Gene  says to Finny, “ You’re too good to be true.”
Page 45: Gene fails test because he went to the beach with Finny instead of studying.
Page 46: Gene is striving to be head of the class and valedictorian this way he is “even” with Finny since he was won all the sports awards
Page 47: Chet is a shoe in for head of the class; Gene believes Finny is trying to wreck his studies.
Page 51: Gene and Finny get into an argument as Finny asked Gene to come to the tree and Gene wanted to study. Finny tells Gene it’s no big deal and he can stay and study
Page 52: Gene decides to go to the tree, Gene realizes there was never a rivalry between him and Finny, there is a pureness to Finny.
Page 53: Finny decides that he and Gene should jump together. On the branch, Gene shakes the tree limb and Finny falls onto the bank
Page 54: Finny’s leg is shattered, Gene is sick of hearing about it, No one accused Gene for Finny’s fall.
Page 58: Finny has this feeling that Gene shook the branch but doesn’t believe the feeling and does not accuse Gene
Page 59: Gene tries to tell Finny the truth but is interrupted by the doctor. The next day Finny was sent to Boston

The main problem in the novel up to this point is Gene’s jealously of Finny and guilt. Finny seems to be perfect in every way. The only spot Gene is better than Finny is academically.  This is when Gene starts to think that Finny is trying to destroy his grades and his studies. Gene finally figures out this was not the case after a small argument. The both of them then climb the tree to perform a double jump. Gene shakes Finny out of the tree. Finny’s leg is broken and he won’t be able to play sports again. Finny refuses the let himself believe what he felt; he felt Gene shook him out of the tree in purpose. Gene feels extremely guilty for this and goes to Finny’s home in Boston to tell him the truth.

Page 14: Only the older kids/ Draft bait were able to jump from the tree into the river. It was never done by a 16 year old. Finny wanted to try
Page 28: The boys decide to create a suicide society group, you have to jump out of the tree to get in
Page 43: Finny tells Gene you can’t just go to the beach with anyone, especially as a teen, you must go with your best friend which is what you (Gene) are.
Page 55: Gene wears Finny’s clothes and “becomes Finny”. Gene confronts himself with what he has done

The theme of the book is about boys coming of age as well as friendship and male bonding. The first theme is boys coming of age which is shown throughout the book. The boys are constantly learning who they are and who they want to become. You also get the idea of trying to fit in. This is shown when the boys create the suicide society group, a place where they feel like they belong and fit in. The other main theme of the story is male bonding and friendship. Gene and Finny have a strong bond, they are best friends. This was no more apparent than it was when they took a trip to the beach. This is also shown when Finny is in the hospital, so Gene puts on Finny’s clothes to comfort himself.

Active Reading:
                An interesting thought that I have had about the book (I share this thought with many others) is Finny being Christ like.  Gene paints Finny with Christ-like descriptions; pure heartedness, naturally skilled and charismatic. Finny falling out of the tree and breaking his leg shows us he is far from invincible and is vulnerable. At the instance of Finny’s fall, all the hate and jealously Gene possessed towards Finny is now gone. The similarities between Finny and Christ are uncanny. Christ was both powerful and vulnerable and he died so others would live; Finny leg broke, so Gene could become the person he has become today.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Critical Article Summaries

James Ellis on Innocence and Envy

            The critical view written by James Ellis shows the transition of the novel, A Separate Peace, from peace to ‘war’, as well as the darkness of the human heart. Ellis explains how the novel goes from peace innocence in the summer to a war of emotions (specifically envy) in the winter. During the summer months at school, Gene and Finny become close friends. Finny represents the innocence of the boys. Phineas turns the signs of war around them into boyish delights.  As the novel progresses, Gene’s envy of Finny grows from a small amount to a large amount. Part of Gene wants to see Finny fail. This takes us to the ‘war’ of the novel and the darkness that lies within the human heart. After building up so much hatred towards the innocence of Phineas, Gene pushes him out of a tree. Due to this act, the fall session of school starts with the absence of Finny. Gene finds that the peace there was in the summer has left with Finny. The peace that was once there has been replaced by rules. Gene is no longer himself because of his guilt. When Phineas returns to the school, Gene says that he will enlist into the army to pay for his own evil that he conflicted on Finny. After talking to Phineas about enlisting, Gene can see that Finny and he need each other. So Gene does not go to war. Finny then teaches Gene about being an athlete. Gene realizes along the way that he has become like Phineas and shares some of the innocence which Finny has within. Phineas’ life helped Gene to, “survive his fall from innocence.’ (Ellis). Having known and loved Phineas helps Gene see the good and the pureness in life. Phineas chose to see the good over the bad, because of this Gene realizes that the enemy of ‘war’ is not from without, but from within. James Ellis outlines the theme of innocence and envy within the book, as it goes from peace to war and the importance of overcoming the evil that lies within.

                      Marvin E. Mengeling on Meaning and Myth

            The critical article written by Marvin E. Mengeling shows the representation of a godly figure in Phineas. Phineas portrays God in the novel. More specifically, the Greek God Phoebus Apollo. Phoebus was young, handsome, and athletic. As well, he was a healer. Not the traditional sense of a healer, but one, “who taught the correct procedures for avoiding evil ills, superstitions, and fear.” (Mengeling). All four of these traits were shown by Phineas at some point throughout the book. As well, both believed that you should not lie, and that the truth was key to strive for harmony in life. Phineas thought that you should always win at sports, but it wasn’t about the competition. It was about doing the best you could do; the struggle within yourself; no fear and no ego.  This again shows the want of accomplishing perfect harmony in life within yourself. The Greek women had a festival called the Dionysian Festive. During this festival, women would go into the mountains and drink and dance to be reborn. In the middle of all this they would do a live sacrifice. The women would then eat their victim. This festival is a lot like the carnival described in the novel. During the carnival, the boys partied and danced away their fear. They also jumped Breaker (like a sacrifice) and stole his cider and drank it. Phineas has to die in the novel. He did. He needed to die like all gods must because it is in a gods’ nature to be in spiritual form. Another reason is that a world is no place for someone as pure and powerful as they (gods) are. When Phineas dies, he passes his spirit and code to Gene. All the negativity that was inside of Gene is now gone and replaced with friendship, loyalty and love. In a way, Phineas suffered the crippling injury so Gene would not have to. Throughout the critical essay, written by Marvin E. Mengeling, he shows the strong connection of Greek Gods and ancient Greek festivals to the character Phineas. Also he shows the relationship and symbols of how A Separate Peace and myths from ancient Greece intertwine.

James Holt McGavran on Male Bonding in the Novel

       The critical article written by James Holt McGavran tries to convince the reader that Gene and Phineas are homosexuals and are in love with one another. Although there are no physical acts of love, the boys are in love with one another but do not say it because of something called homosexual panic. The theory of homosexual panic is that a male will not admit to being a homosexual because of a fear of not being accepted. This is common for teen boys. In the novel there is no talk about the boys’ sexual orientation, but McGravran insists on the idea of the boys being gay. Some examples pulled out of the book to try and prove this point are: the mood at the carnival, they were roommates, and they would play fight. Throughout the book Gene talks about Phineas’ physical appearance and takes notice of his beauty. The night at the beach was another example of their mutual love and desire. Also Finny does not want Gene to go to war; Phineas needs Gene. Hours before Phineas’ death they share an intense, emotional conversation about Gene pushing him out of a tree. The conversation ends with Gene “offering” himself to him. Due to Finny and Gene’s special bond, McGavran believes that Gene and Finny are more than just best pals. McGavran believes that if Phineas had not died, they would have ended up participating in sexual relations. James Holt McGraven reads deep in between the lines in order to try and convince the reader that Gene and Phineas are homosexuals and in love with one another.   

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Survey of Author

The title of the book I am studying is called, A Separate Peace. The author of the book is American John Knowles.

            The author is not what made me interested in the book, but rather the book itself. This was John’s first published book and he was never able to match the success of A Separate Peace. This book is considered an American classic and is used in many high schools for study. As well, there are a lot of critical articles on this book that makes my analysis of the book easier to do. From reading the book, I have learned a little bit about the author’s style of writing and do enjoy reading it. He keeps the plot simple and allows the reader to connect to the characters.

            Knowles was born in September of 1926 and was the third born child. His father was the vice president of a coal company. When Knowles was 15, he went to a boarding school in New Hampshire and graduated from the school in 1945. After 8 months with the USA army, Knowles went to Yale and worked with the school newspaper. After school Knowles spent some time traveling Europe, before moving to New York City where he wrote for many magazines including Cosmopolitan. In 1959, Knowles first book, A Separate Peace, was published and became very successful. Again Knowles spent some time in Europe as well as the Middle East. With success of A Separate Peace, John was able to become a full time writer. None of John’s ten other books ever reached the same success of his first one. Knowles died in his Florida house in 2001 (at the age of 75), after battling a brief illness.  

            John Knowles published ten other novels. Morning in Antibes was his second published novel and was the first of his Mediterranean novels. Double Vision: American Thoughts Abroad was published in 1964. The book was a chronicle of his two-year travels to Europe and the Middle-East. Indian Summer was Knowles fourth published novel. This one also had some success. Knowles other books include: Phineas: Six Stories (1968), The Paragon (1971), Spreading Fires (1974), A Vein of Riches (1978), Peace Breaks Out (1981), A Stolen Past (1983) and The Private Life of Axie Reed (1986). There were two genres that Knowles liked to write about. One genre is prep school fiction. He enjoyed writing novels about people who are coming of age. A Separate Peace, for example, tells a story of teenage boys coming of age during a time of war. The other genre used by Knowles was Mediterranean. Again, fiction.

            In 1941, Knowles attended a boarding school in New Hampshire called Exeter. This school became the setting for his first book, A Separate Peace. As well, in his first novel, Knowles uses the same time period he would have been in boarding school, which was during WWII. Another big influence on Knowles’ writing was his trip to the Middle East. This trip was his inspiration to writing a series of Mediterranean novels. The book A Vein of Riches was about the coal mining business, which was the business Knowles’ father was a part of. The school Exeter was a lot like the school used in A Separate Peace. Both schools had the rivers, the English-style buildings, and the playing fields. In fact, you could say they were the same school due to all the similarities used in the novel. Both schools have the focus on scholarly work and athletics. The time period of WWII was also the same as Johns real life experience. Knowles has said that each character in his first novel has a little bit of him in them. As well, their experiences that they have at the school, is loosely based on Knowles own experience at boarding school. Even including similar clubs he was involved with.
           John Knowles like to write books loosely based on his life and experiences. For most of his books there was a Mediterranean theme to it. This is due to the time Knowles spent in the Middle East. Knowles also liked to tell a story about a tragic hero and jealously. For example, in A Separate Peace, Finny is the tragic hero; a good scholar and a natural athlete, until his best friend gives him a ‘crippling’ blow. Finny’s best friend Gene provides what is the jealously in this novel, as he can no longer take Finny’s innocence.

            John Knowles most successful book is A Separate Peace.  This book was about a boys prep school and told a story of boys be coming of age. This book was published eight years after A Catcher in the Rye. A Catcher in the Rye also told a story of boys in prep school, becoming of age. Due to the similar theme both books have, John Knowles was often compared to the author of A Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger. Even though the books were very different in style, structure and subject manner, critics often compared the two because of the similar theme both books have.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Choice Submission

                The book I chose to read is called, A Separate Peace by John Knowles. The book was published in 1959 and has 192 pages. However, the story itself goes from page 9 to page 176.
                When we first starting choosing books, I was recommended a book called, The Wars. When I went to the Library to get a copy, Ms. Woelfl recommended A Separate Peace over the first novel due to the fact that A Separate Peace had more secondary sources. So I took both books home and read a bit of each. Unfortunately, for me, one book did not stand out over the other one, but based on the fact of how easy it was to find secondary sources, I chose A Separate Peace.

                It’s hard to get a good grasp on the novel because I am only five pages in so far. However from what I read, I do like this book. The author, John Knowles, is able to paint a mental picture using descriptive words, as well as give me a feel for the time the book takes place. The author, in the first few pages, stresses the changes in one’s life (in this case, the main character) after finishing school; as the main character reflects on his, almost haunting, past.  

                I have only read 5 pages, but as I go along, after every page, I write down a couple of points to summarize what I have just read. I believe in doing this, it will give me an advantage in later assignments in the Independent Study Project. Since the book is a shorter book, it will also help me pin point certain important events that occur throughout the novel.

                The book is written in first person and starts off with the main character taking a trip through time. The main character returns to his old school (Devon School) and reflects on the time when he had attended the school, 15 years before.  It starts off in the fall season, in New England, New Hampshire. The main character mentions a few times about the fear back then. He mentions how Devon is a very athletic and scholarly school. However he is not just visiting the school, but also a place called the Cage. He takes us to a place just outside the school yard. It’s a woodsy area, with a river behind the trees. There is only a couple trees along the bank of the river, and he is looking for one I particular, which he finds. He can tell this tree apart due to the markings on the trunk, as well as a branch that extends above the river. It is a cold, wet day out as the main character reflects. He also mentions a childhood friend briefly; his name is Phineas and describes him of having no fear.

                Being only five pages in, it is hard to really identify a true theme. However I was able to pick out a few different ideas on different themes that might occur throughout the story. You get the feeling (as the character reflects), that there was an uncertainty in the past; whereas now, everything seems much more clear. Almost like there were things in the past ‘haunting’ the character. As well, the character mentions that there was a high degree of fear in the past. This could do with the fact that when this character attended Devon, World War II was in full swing. As well, there is a sense of transformation as one goes from being a teen to becoming a man. I believe the author is trying to show how hard it can be to ‘fit’ in. As well as show the fear and transformations in a person as they make some of the biggest decisions in their life (like whether or not to join the fight in WWII).

                I have yet to begin looking for secondary sources on my novel, but I have been told that there is two bloom books on this novel in our library. When the next week begins, I plan on grabbing both bloom books on this novel, to use on my independent study.

                “I was thankful, very thankful that I had seen it. So the more things remain the same, the more they change after all.” (page 13, Knowles)
                To me, this sentence really makes you think. What I get from this sentence is the more things stay the same, the more you realize how much you’ve changed as a person and how much your life has changed from the past. Things that once meant so much now seem like a novelty. You remember things a certain way, and they are still the same way you remember them but the area doesn’t feel like it did in your memory. You look for what has changed in you to make things different from what has happened to now.

James Ellis, excerpt from “A Separate Peace: The Fall from Innocence,” The English Journal, vol. LIII, no. 5, May 1964, pp. 313-318. Reprinted with permission. Bloom, Harold, ed. Bloom's Guides. New York: Infobase, 2008. Print. John Knowles' A Separate Peace.

James L. McDonald, “The Novels of John Knowles.” Reprinted from Arizona Quarterly 25.4 (1967) pp. 335-342 by permission of the Regents of The University of Arizona. Bloom, Harold, ed. Bloom's Guides. New York: Infobase, 2008. Print. John Knowles' A Separate Peace.

Paul Witherington, “A Separate Peace:  A Study in Structural Ambiguity.” From The English Journal 54, no. 9 (December 1969): pp.795-800. Reprinted by permission. Bloom, Harold, ed. Bloom's Guides. New York: Infobase, 2008. Print. John Knowles' A Separate Peace.