Weekly Reads Classics: A Separate Peace

Emily Dickinson // The Watchdog.

“But I was used to finding something deadly in things that attracted me; there was always something deadly lurking in anything I wanted, anything I loved. And if it wasn’t there… I put it there myself.”

— John Knowles, “A Separate Peace”

The Watchdog added a new side series to the Weekly Reads series called Weekly Reads Classics. So far, we have only reviewed one classic book of literature, Albert Camus’ “The Stranger.” Therefore, we are reviewing another known classic titled, “A Separate Peace.”

If you haven’t already read this unforgettable coming-of-age novel by John Knowles, I highly recommend you do. 

“A Separate Peace” is about identity, friendship, war, rivalry and loss of innocence; to name a few. The book revolves around main character Gene Forrester and best friend Phineas (“Finny”). Gene revisits his old prep school as an adult and recalls substantial emotional memories of his time there. Gene and Finny attended the prep school (Devon) in the midst of World War II, which plays a role in the plotline. Gene is jealous of Finny’s athletic abilities which leads to an “accident” and a whole lot of guilt.

Knowles’ “A Separate Peace” is considered a classic due to the nature of its themes and motifs. Similar to most classics, Knowles’ novel delves into themes of loss of innocence, especially its rushed loss due to the war. 

After reading this book, I learned how important it is to reflect on the choices we make. I also learned about the path it takes in order to come to one’s identity. There are many lessons found in this relatively short novel that I encourage you to dive into when you get the chance.