The book, A Separate Peace, written by John Knowles, can be related to adolescence in several ways. The attendants of this school face many new experiences during the course of their stay, many of which occur in their last year. This is where the book picks up. The book takes place at the Devon School, in the summer session of 1942. Throughout this book, the children are constantly fighting and fearing adulthood and their future. The pressure to be successful and layout a plan for the future is always upon students in school.
Also, the constant reminder of World War || lays like heavy blankets over them, smothering at all times. Many of the students at the Devon School accept this pressure and continue to press on, while others may crack. Adolescence is conveyed throughout this book through many points. One of which is the society established by both Gene and Finny, known as the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session. The Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session was the main activity that kept the student's minds off the war.
Their society was established on the banks of the Devon River, a river that passed through school grounds. This river was quite the opposite of the Naguamsett River. The Naguamsett was rough, cloudy, and unpredictable, much like the students' futures. The Devon River was smooth and fresh, with clear waters, and was pure like their childhood. To join the society, you would have to jump from the tree into the river, testing your courage.
Once it had been done, everyone else wanted to try and out-jump the prior jumper. This changed the student's perception of the tree from soldier training to fun and games. Finny established this game because he was not one to let the depression of the war overcome him. He always tried to make others happy, going to any extreme to get a laugh. He was the sign of peace, childhood and fun at Devon.
Without Finny, the students would soon lose touch with their childhood, turning all their attention onto the war. Adolescence was also shown through Finny's clothing. Finny had no inhibitions, which was conveyed very well through his pink shirt and tie-belt. The pink shirt and tie-belt served as an emblem, because news had just arrived of the bombing overseas. Finny wore this to tea, something no one else would dare ever do. If anyone else had worn a shirt like that, they would be called a fairy and been laughed back to their room.
Only Finny could pull something off like that. No one would dare make fun of him since he was so popular and well liked. Also, when authority would challenge him on it, his amazing wit and charm would get him out of it. Only children can do that wonderfully. His clothing also shows his individually. Finny does not want to be the normal, everyday student; he wants to test all limits and stand out from the crowd.
He wanted to be the exact opposite of Brinker; a bad adult-copy that attended the school during the winter session. Brinker always looked very official and precise with his suits and polished shoes. He despised the way Finny would run around like a child, but that was what separated him from Brinker, and Finny was happy for it. The immaturity of the students is another example of adolescence in the book A Separate Peace. Gene and Finny would always skip classes during the summer session. They would skip to go to the tree and jump into the Devon River, or to go to the beach to swim.
After classes they would not go to their room and study, they would have a meeting of the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session. The way they acted during the summer session changed drastically as they entered the winter session. The pressure to enlist and new classes limited their time. Also, as Gene Finny grew older, they did not have the need to got out and run around. They had to concentrate on their future, as Brinker had done all his life. By the winter session adolescence had left Gene and Finny, maybe not totally but somewhat.
Things were not the same, and they both knew it. Combining all points makes it easy to see that adolescence was common in the book A Separate Peace. Finny always had did his part to make sure fun still existed at the Devon School. Whether it be through his clothing or crazy antics, Finny was a large part of everyday life at the school. He could convince someone into anything, even if it was a headmaster. His trips to the river, swimming through the waves at the beach, his pink 'fairy's hirt, everything Finny did added to the richness of that year.
Overall, A Separate Peace was a good book. It keeps the attention of the reader while providing them with experiences that will take them down memory lane. The author, John Knowles, did a remarkable job with this book, but fails to answer one question that tugs at the back of your mind the whole time: Is the author retelling a story or making this up? You decide.