A Separate Peace #2 Significance of the Title

The isolated campus of Devon is free of war, and where war is not in attendance peace must have presence. A separate peace is a serene environment or object of interest in which an individual places his trust, confiding his most precious secrets or daring achievements. However, whenever someone truly finds their “separate peace,” they lock a part of their heart into this item or area of choice. In the novel, A Separate Peace, the author places young Gene Forrester into the shoes of a most troubled protagonist. This young man becomes friends with the darning athlete, Phineas, forming a bond that lasts until Gene unfortunately has to attend the funeral of his best friend. Gene and Phineas both place immense trust in each other, which is risky for teens being raised in a military school during this time. Devon is separate from the war, just as Finny is separate from all traits negative in nature. Gene places part of his heart–metaphorically– into Finny, and thus when the boy dies he loses his own identity. He is no longer the “companion of Phineas” or the delinquent who shadows the mastermind of every broken rule, but instead is perceived as only Gene.

A Separate Peace can be taken in two completely different perspectives. Through the eyes of an optimist “a separate peace” is the peace found in the small matters of life, especially when hardships continue to endure and antagonize. However, with the eyes of a realist the title signifies the truth that is illuminated throughout the story: Gene places a trust in Phineas that could never last, and thus whenever he loses his friend the world goes dark and he no longer flows through life, but is clouded with mud and dirt, one and the same with the Naguamsett.

“Peace had deserted Devon” (ch 6)

4 thoughts on “A Separate Peace #2 Significance of the Title

  1. Josh: Nice job on this post. I think you have grasped the meaning of the title of this novel well.
    Why does Gene return to Devon? What is his separate peace 15 years later?

  2. Why would it be risky for teens to trust in a military school where they’re taught to work together. Do you not need trust in sports which is a major part of their school?

  3. Mrs. Bozeman: He returns to Devon to reminisce with the ghosts of his past. Yes, he does not worry or place his heart with Finny in death, but he does seal his memory here at Devon. Gene doesn’t want to forget what happened in his childhood, and so he returns to his old school to refresh his memory. Fifteen years later Gene finds his separate peace to be the piece of himself that was locked away with Phineas. He can never cry again, for his sorrow has been trapped by the peace he has found in living. Phineas teaches him that in every dull moment of life more can be found, such as freedom, joy, and love in abundance.

  4. Josh: For kids to place trust in a structured boarding school meant to prepare them for war would be the equivalent of holding onto the wind. The second the child feels confident in the trust they have wisely placed, this school will utterly disappoint them and leave their spirit crumbled, just as Leper’s is during his time in the military. Trust is a major factor in the ability to function as a group, and does indeed influence the rate of performance. However, a sport can be singularly based on an individual, which is why trust is not exactly required for success to thrive in Devon.

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