A Separate Peace by John Knowles: Chapter One Analysis

A Separate Peace Chapter 1. This novel begins with the narrator returning to the Devon school he used to go 15 years ago, he’s disappointed on the way the school looks, the school looks preserved, newer-looking, unchanged. He also discovers while he goes around the school that his emotion of fear has changed as little as the buildings at his old school. The story is being narrated during the month of November, and since this is New Hampshire, it’s grey and wet. The narrator walks around the school naming 3 specific places he wanted to visit.

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First, there’s this marble stairs that he describes with such emotion, one of the things he says about this stairs is that despite how old this stairs are theyre so hard they are barely worn down at the center, he also starts to compare himself to the stairs and realizes how much he has grown over the last 15 years. But then its time for the narrator to visit what he really came to see to Devon, he passes through the playing field and he also see little changes and he describes it with this quote “The more things stay the same, the more they change after all”.

The narrator ets to this tree where his starts telling us the story in a flashback mode, he names his crazy friend Phineas. The narrator describes himself as a sarcastic person during this summer of 1942. The narrator gives an extended explanation of how him and his friends weren’t supposed to Jump because they were still to young but one day, himself and Phineas with other 3 boys went to the tree and Phineas was the first on climbing the tree and Jumping into the river, after Phineas the narrator climbs up the tree and thinks a lot about Jumping until finally Phineas said something that made im Jump.

The other three boys, Leper, Bobby Zane and Chet Douglass are too scared to Jump, and when they hear the dinner bell they all hurried back except for Phineas and the narrator who were messing around about all of the other adolescents that had ever lived. They both go back to their room and the narrator talks about how they do their Thomas Hardy-related homework while listening to their illegal radio. Vocabulary Word. “Naturally Finny was going to be the first to try, and Just as naturally he was going to inveigle others, us , into trying it with him”.

Inveigle: persuade (someone) to do something by means of deception or flattery. Mary didn’t want to get into Michael’s car but he inveigle her by telling her that everything was going to be okay so she finally got into the car. For me it was very surprising and unexpected that the narrator felt bad about his old school looking and new, and also that this place brought him to the conclusion that he was so fearful when he lived there 15 years ago and that he could admit that now. Why do you think is the narrator making emphasis on his tree story and referring so much to Phineas?

I believe that the narrator is making emphasis on this story because it remembers him about his best friend during this hard time of his life he lived in Devon school, and from the things I read I can interfere that Phineas motivates the narrators and gets him to do things that he wouldn’t do by himself. Quote: “Nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not even death by violence” I think what the narrator is trying to say with this quote is that nothing lasts for ever, not even the pain or the death that’s caused by violence (referring to WWII).

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