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A Separate Peace: Literary Analysis Of The Theme: Reality Vs. Appearance

1 Pages 335 Words

One major theme in A Separate Peace by John Knowles is appearance versus reality.
There are many points where this theme makes an appearance and it is one of, if not the most,
important themes throughout the book. There are specific points throughout the book where this
theme is emphasized.

This theme is especially notable in Gene's characterizations of himself, and of Finny.
Gene tries to present himself as a rule-abiding, nice kind of person, as a person who normally
conformed to the rules and regulations of the school and society in general. However, when he is
with his roommate, Finny, he behaves very differently, and, as we see from the events in the
book, he is sometimes spiteful, jealous, and has quite a temper when he is stirred up. Gene is not
a totally good person, as no one who intentionally injures his best friend and then tries to cover up
the truth should be considered to be one. However, Gene would be hard pressed to admit this,
and tries to avoid the subject of his "savage" underpinning. His envy and jealousy is very apparent
when he makes Finny fall from the tree, crippling him. Gene committed this act out of spite and
jealousy, but was later filled with guilt and remorse.

Gene also represents Finny as a happy-go-lucky sort who has been through few
problems and has no inner struggles. Even after Finny's accident, Gene insists that Finny has
never been conflicted after Finny has tried so hard to avoid implicating his friend despite his anger
and bitterness. Finny is far more complex, as we find out at the end, than Gene would like to
believe him to be; and as Gene finds out, what is on the surface sometimes does not denote what
is hidden underneath.

Throughout the book, reality vs. appearance was emphasized throughout the two main
characters. Both of them were not always what they seemed, they were constantly contradicting
themselves, doing things that did not seem to be in character for th...

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