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Book Review
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A Summary And Analysis Of The Novel A Separate Piece By John Knowles (Book Review Sample)



Student’s Name
Professor’s Name
A Separate Piece
A Separate Peace is one of the best-known novels by John Knowles. The novel explores patriotism, morality, and loss of innocence. Gene Forrester and Phineas are the main characters. The narration is told from Gene’s point of view. The story begins with Gene returning to his old prep school in Devon. The return to Devon brings bad memories, and he regards two places as ‘fearful sites.’ The two locations that he fears the most are the marble stairs and a tree along the river bank that caused the fallout with his friend Phineas (nicknamed Finny). During their time in Devon, Finny and Phineas were close friends despite being opposite in personality. The author describes Finny as an extrovert, athletic demeanor and carefree while Gene is portrayed as an introvert, quiet and intellectual personality. The friendship between the two goes through happy moments. During the ‘gypsy summer’ in 1942, Finny convinces Gene to form a ‘Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session.' The society is created to recruit more members who undergo a rite of passage by jumping into Devon River. The fact that Gene accepts this idea proves that they shared good friendship among them. The friendship, however, comes to a halt when Gene jounces Finny’s limb causing him to fall from the tree. Finny suffers from a shattered leg. The accident compels Finny to quit from sports which were most dear to him.
The author uses characterization to describe the emotional tension between Finny and Gene. In the beginning, Gene is seen as an innocent with child-like conformity. Gene appears to be obedient to the rules, predictable, and unthreatening. His friendship with Finny compels Gene to do more daring things. In his new life adventure, Gene unbound himself by creating new traditions. Despite his effort to be more like Finny, Gene still hides his resentment and wishes he could be the best student. Envy and dissatisfaction make Gene view Finny as his enemy. Psychologically, Gene thinks that Finny is trying to divert him from his studies by making him fail. The fact that Gene fails to confront Finny about his suspicion makes him suffer anger from inside. Realizing that Finny is not his rival, Gene feels insignificant ‘like a child who discovers he is not the center of the universe.' The feeling makes Gene act unconsciously and express his anger by jouncing the limb. By jouncing the limb, Gene seems relieved, and he jumped like never before. Gene now feels like a child at the center of the world since the threat is destroyed.
The jouncing of the tree by Gene can be termed as intentional. I believe that he desired to be better than Finny. The desire to be the best student might have subconsciously motivated him to jounce the br...
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