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A Separate Peace: Ignorance of the Human Heart

Uploaded by a.a.k.laxman9004 on Oct 31, 2005

Note: Please use this essay as an outline. Some examples are required to support these ideas.

I. Thesis: Gene decides that the war arose from something ignorant within humanity itself, something “ignorant within the human heart.”

II. The novel’s conflict arises out of Gene’s refusal to recognize his own feelings of jealousy and insecurity as the real enemy. Instead, his fears are projected onto his closest companion, Phineas, whom Gene suspects of possessing his own feelings of envy and self-loathing. Gene pushes Phineas out of a tree because of his insecurity. He suspected that Phineas was trying to sabotage him when in actuality, Phineas had only good intentions for his best friend. With Phineas as the enemy, Gene is plunged into a world of competition and hatred, where the only crucial elements worth preserving are his own superiority. Ultimately, this act of self-deception drives Gene to malicious thoughts and behavior, destroying any feelings of affection and friendship he might have once had for Phineas.

III. Gene believes that his war actually ended before he ever entered military service. He sees now that he killed his “enemy” at Devon, while Phineas, always unique, never saw anyone or anything as his enemy.

IV. Knowles documents what happens when , and Leper all become casualties of this change by convincing themselves the enemy, the cause of their fears, lies outside of themselves. Leper comes to believe that Brinker is the real enemy and his bullying causes him to think that in this war, it is not his ignorance that is the cause of his fears. Phineas is the one shining example to contrast the self-deception of his classmates, for Phineas does not see the enemy in the people around him. Indeed, Phineas does not see the enemy at all. And so rather than share in the friendship that Phineas offers, Gene destroys the peace that he was unable to find in himself.

V. Phineas is the novel’s greatest casualty. He becomes a metaphor for the peace that is lost when Gene is too afraid to identify the enemy within himself. He tells us that adolescence confronts manhood and the fears that develop when change becomes reality. John Knowles tell us that war is not so much a product of conflict or need as it is the ignorance within the human heart.

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Uploaded by:   a.a.k.laxman9004

Date:   10/31/2005

Category:   A Separate Peace

Length:   2 pages (383 words)

Views:   5394

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