John In the book, Finny attempts to distance

John Bridgers”A Separate Peace” Essay/MidtermDr. MastPeriod 5″A Separate Peace” by John Knowles, is a book about youth and the transition to manhood at Devon boarding school in New Hampshire.  In the book, Finny attempts to distance himself and the other boys from the war with a winter carnival.  Although the festivities of the winter carnival suggest that the boys have been successful in creating a separate peace, Knowles’ use of war imagery in describing the setting, prizes, and the boys’ behavior suggests that this peace is illusory.                    Knowles’ use of war imagery in describing the setting of the winter carnival suggests that the boys have not established a separate peace from the war.  The description of “Near the Naguamsett river” (131) is given because of the conflict between Gene and Quackenbush that took place there.  Knowles relates this conflict to the conflict of the war that has worked its way into Devon life.  Knowles also shows that they haven’t established a separate peace from the war by describing the day as “battleship gray.” (131) The use of battleship to describe the day shows how the war is still a part of everyone’s thoughts at Devon.  Knowles uses more language that gives the connotations of war when he says “Winter’s occupation seems to have conquered… and destroyed everything.” He uses these words to suggest that the war had conquered and destroyed the boys’ separate peace.  The words “conquered” and “destroyed” also have the connotations of war, with conquering and destroying the enemy being the goal of war. The setting is also described as being rule free on the Saturday of the carnival when Gene says that “there was going to be no government… this Saturday.”  This is referring to the winter carnival and it’s lack of rules.  It also however is referring to Finny’s situation.  While the other boys are going to be drafted soon, when they turn 18, Finny is disabled and won’t have to worry about this.  He is in his own separate peace, separated from all thoughts of the war, and he tries to take the other boys into his careless world during the carnival.  The descriptions of the setting show that the peace from the war established in the Winter Carnival is short lived and false.The choice of prizes, like the description of the setting, show the falsehood of the peace from the war established during Finny’s carnival.  The boys choose prizes that show how they are worried about the impending draft.  The set of barbells, for example, shows how the boys are trying to bulk up for the war.  This is another example of how the war had become part of life at Devon.  The prizes also show how the peace is imagined. The boys are very immature. They have prizes such as hair from a prostitute, which must have been obtained during sex, as well as a forged draft card so that the boys can get alcohol, explicit photographs, and a dictionary with bad words marked in it.  These prizes show the boys and immature, but they also suggests that they have because they are doing adult things.  The adult activities the boys are taking part in, and the adult items they have, reinforce the idea that they will be the draft age by the end of the year, truly adults.While the boys behave immaturely with the prizes they select, their behavior also shows how bellicose and ready for war the boys are.  Knowles uses the phrase “barbaric call of a bullfight” to show this behaviour. He shows that the boys are thinking about war and is infiltrated their peace.  He also uses the phrase “elbowed off a counterattack” to show how the boys are looking for a fight.  He also suggests that the boys are ready to be soldiers when he says that Brinker “stationed” his friend.  The boys’ behaviour shows how the war has infiltrated Devon and their separate peace.  Knowles describes the fighting over mugs as “breaking apart into a riot hung like a bomb.”  The description of the event as a bomb alludes to the bombing of Europe and the war, once again bringing the war into life at Devon.The separate peace of whimsical carelessness established by Finny at the winter carnival is shown to be false by Knowles through his description of the setting, choice of prizes, and description of the behaviour of the boys.  Knowles shows the war to be a part of everyone’s thoughts at Devon, besides Finny, with the winter carnival and the way it’s described.  

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