Charles Manson is a convicted serial killer who in the 1960’s founded a hippie cult group known as “the Family”. He manipulated the cult into brutally killing others on his behalf. Manson had a rough childhood. His mother ran away from home at age 15 and all throughout Manson’s life she was in and out of jail. Since she was never around to take care of him, he spent his youth at the homes of relatives and often at special reform schools and boys schools. By the age of 9, Manson had already started stealing and not long after that he was stealing cars. His hard life was no doubt the start of his murder streak. After spending a little time in prison, Manson had become obsessed with music. Manson met Terry Melcher in California. Manson believed Melcher was going to advance his music career but when nothing happened, Manson was very upset. On August 9,1969 he had told his followers to go to 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles and kill the people inside. This was once the house of Terry Melcher, the man who had refused to help Manson with his music career. Although Melcher did not live there anymore, the four followers proceeded to kill the people inside. The house now belonged to actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski. On that day Tate, Polanski, their unborn baby, and four other guests that were visiting the house were murdered. The following night, Manson’s followers brutally killed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home. It took the police several months to determine who was responsible. On December 1969, Manson and several of his followers were arrested. The trial began on July 24, 1970. On January 25, Manson was found guilty of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. On March 29, 1971, Manson was sentenced to death.
Gene- He is the narrator and the protagonist of the novel. Gene is naturally intelligent and mediocre at sports. He has a love-hate relationship with his “bestfriend” Finny. He is uncomfortable with his own personality so he has to feed off of Finny.
Finny-He is honest, athletic, and really self-confident. Most of the boys at Devon follow him and do whatever he says. He has the ability to charm a crowd at any given moment. Finny’s behaviors also suggest that he relishes pure achievement rather than competition.
A Separate Peace has many meanings. While the rest of the world is at war, the boy’s at Devon have found peace away from the war. Finny created an imaginary world for himself so he wouldn’t have to think about the war. That was his separate peace. This book is also about the wars that we have within ourselves. Gene has to battle with his demons and eventually win over his worst enemy, himself. Thus, creating a separate peace. He knows that he cannot go back to the innocent peace of his childhood, but he is still able to create a peace for himself.
Within this novel, the dark side of human nature is seen through fear,jealously, and denial. Gene is scared of himself. He is scared to find his own identity because he thinks it will be inferior to Finny’s. Gene is fearful to say no to Finny,and he feels entitled to do everything that Finny suggests. The next dark trait of human nature that is expressed in the novel, is jealously. Finny is jealous of Gene because he doesn’t have to try to make good grades. Gene is jealous of Finny because he is good at anything involving sports and everyone wants to follow him. Each of the boy’s spend all of their time impressing the other one. Last but not least, the ever dark denial is seen throughout this novel as well. At the Devon School it seems as if there is no war at all. The boy’s go through their day worrying about studies, and who is falling (or being pushed) from trees. Most of them are not thinking of the war at all. Or if they do think about it, they just imagine it as a horror story in a book. None of them want to face the truth that in the near future they might all have to see the real horror of the very real war.
A few of the characters in this novel (mostly Gene) play a brutal game of “Lost and Found” with their identity. Finny and Gene’s relationship is complex and not the typical ‘friendship’. From the beginning, Gene is envious of Finny’s dominating personality. Although Gene is extremely well off academically while as Finny is not, Gene still feels jealous of Finny’s physical ability. The dark moment when Gene is in the tree with Finny suddenly changes everything. All of Gene’s envy is replaced by codependency. After Finny’s fall, Gene dresses in Finny’s clothes and that is when the theme sets into place. From this moment on Gene is apart of Finny and Finny is apart of Gene. They depend on each other for psychological support. When Gene realizes that Finny will never be able to do what he loves most, play sports, Gene also vows off of playing sports. However, when Finny tells Gene that he is going to help him train for the Olympics, Gene does not have the heart to say no. Finny is living his dream through Gene.Both of the boy’s become fulfilled with the other. When Finny dies, Gene is still not separated from him. Gene feels that he is attending his own funeral and that apart of his is dying.
The novel A Separate Peace is set in New Hampshire during WWII. In the natural environment of a rural New England private school the students are able to avoid entering the war. A military school has to be defined and respectable because being in the war was the most respectable thing you could do and the outside of Devon is exactly this; defined and respectable with proud standing trees, never-changing marble staircases and symmetrically cut shrubs. However, the inside does not live up to this expectation. The lives of the boy’s at Devon are chaotic and filled with daily turmoil. Perhaps, all of the chaos that goes on within the school takes away from the chaos going on outside of the school or maybe even resembles it. The war does not seem real to the boy’s which is ironic because that is the reason for their schooling.
This story is a fictional coming-of-age/war story told in the view point of Gene 15 years later. The genre of the story foreshadows the life altering experience that the characters will go through in the novel. Although the book is fictional, these events could happen in the real world.The idea of the Devon School is based off of preparatory schools which are very real today. Also, the idea of children jumping off of a tree in a fit of rebellion is very realistic as well.
1.“…Finny’s life was ruled by inspiration and anarchy, and so he prized a set of rules. His own,
not those imposed on him by other people…”
Finny was born to break rules. He lived to make other people laugh and was one of the most influential students at the Devon School.
2.“I should have told him then that he was my best friend also…But something held me back.
Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth”
Showing feelings other than wanting to fight in the war was not common for schoolboys, especially for Gene. Gene actually cares a lot for Finny but his emotions are clouded by the “competition” and envy.
3. “…it seemed, standing there in Finny’s triumphant shirt, that I would never stumble through the
confusions of my own character again”
In some weird way, past all of the rivalry, Finny makes Gene feel good. Finny is the part of Gene that he(Gene) has always wanted to be. Gene does not have any sense of his own identity. The biggest clue of this is in chapter 11 when Brinker comes into Finny and Gene’s room to take them to the inquiry. In this scene we get a physical description of the bedroom walls and learn that Gene has hung up a picture of a southern plantation and he has made up a whole false identity for himself. Gene does not know who he is so he leeches from Finny because that is easier than trying to find himself.
4. “Looking back now across fifteen years, I could see with great clarity the fear I had lived in, which must mean that in the interval I had succeeded in a very important undertaking: I must have made my escape from it”
Gene spent his entire young adult life drowning in guilt. He felt guilty for Finny’s death and the never really left him until he came back 15 years later to where it all had happened.
5.“I was ready for the war, now that I no longer had any hatred to contribute to it. My fury was gone, I felt it gone, dried up at the source, withered and lifeless. Phineas had absorbed it and taken it with him, and I was rid of it forever”
When Finny died he took a part of Gene with him. He took the part of Gene that ever had any doubts about their friendship. At the end of the book, Gene finally comes to peace with himself and realizes that his and Finny’s friendship will last beyond death.
6.“I did not cry then or ever about Finny.…I could not escape a felling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case”
In a sense, the funeral is his own. Gene is merged with Finny and it becomes difficult to understand one boy existing without the other.
“I’ll hate it everywhere if I’m not in this war! Why do you think I kept saying there wasn’t any
war all winter?”
Finny doesn’t quite come to terms with the fact that he will never be able to do more than just limp with the assistance of a cane. He suddenly has all of this built up anger and energy that he doesn’t know what to do with, so he wants to focus it on the war. Unfortunately, because of his inability to do vigorous physical activity no one will accept him.
“Listen, pal, if I can’t play sports, you’re going to play them for me,’ and I lost part of myself to
him then, and a soaring sense of freedom revealed that this must have been my purpose from the
first: to become part of Phineas”
Since Gene feels responsible for what happened to Finny, he will do anything that Finny wants him to do. He does this out of extreme guilt.
9.“I never killed anybody and I never developed an intense level of hatred for the enemy. Because my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there.”
Gene stopped fighting his personal wars when Finny died. He no longer had to feel threatened and he no longer had to feel any guilt. He was at peace with himself.
10.”Your war memories will be with you forever, you’ll be asked about them thousands of times after the war is over. People will get their respect for you from that-partly from that, don’t get me wrong-but if you can say that you were up front where there was some real shooting going on, then that will mean a whole lot to you in years to come”
During the 1940’s fighting in the war was the most noble thing you could do. Everyone wanted to contribute to the war, even the women. Soldiers were superheros.
Finny– Besides the obvious change (*cough* death *cough*) Finny went from being the vivacious star athlete to suddenly crippled. Sports was all that Phineas had going for him because he was indifferent about his studies. After his “accident” Finny went on with his life as if nothing had changed, he was still hyperactive and he still thought up wild ideas. Before Finny breaks his leg he has only one concern for the war, that there is in fact no war. Before Finny’s untimely death he finally told Gene that all along he had been sending letters to different military bases, and they would just turn him down. If Finny could not participate in the war, then he would not believe in it.
Leper- Like the meaning of his name, Leper is someone that no one wanted to be around. He was socially awkward, had weird hobbies, and was viewed as inferior to the other boys at Devon. Leper had a love for skiing, he loved to see the scenery and enjoy nature. He was the last one that people thought would join the war, but it turns out he becomes the first. A recruiting group showed a video about skiing military warfare and in an instant Leper knew that he wanted to enlist. Unfortunately, after a few months Leper was dishonorably discharged. He suffered from a mental breakdown in the war. His sensitive heart could not take the callous bloodshed that came with the uniform.
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