An Analysis of Self-Identity in A Separate Peace, a Novel by John Knowles

Category: Identity, Novel
Last Updated: 13 Mar 2023
Pages: 2 Views: 13

A separate peace is a novel that has become a classic since its release. The novel is about two young boys growing up during the war at a military school. Details of the boy’s day to day life thicken with hidden meanings and themes intricately weaving throughout the duration. One of the foremost and obvious themes of the book is Gene's subconscious Loss of self-identity due to the imposing achievements of Phinny. This theme illustrates a more astute meaning in terms of now. Presently children are being exposed to the same kind of mental development exhibited within the book. Television in particular plays a role in this grotesque process. Media is harmfully affecting the concept of self inside the minds of many children and teenagers alike.

In A Separate peace a select passage conveys Gene’s loss of identity. The story has just started a falling motion after a dramatic climax. Phinny has just fallen out of a tree the boy played and jumped off of into a river. Phinny is a very talented athlete in the book and exceeds Gene in almost every aspect. Gene looses himself too jealous and self-destruction. He begins to hate himself and takes on the role of Phineas or Phinny. His anger and frustration finally peaks on top of the tree when he pushes Phinny from the tree breaking his leg, afterwards Gene apologies to the Phinny. “ 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 a part of Phineas"(Knowles 85). This quote shows Gene’s Affinity to become Phinny; he faces his own discrepancies by becoming a person he sees as perfect. Gene has a mental instability with his self-esteem and confidence. He is a role modern for contemporary societies youth.

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Modern day’s so called advancement is beginning to sprout and divulge it’s own devilish products. Television for example was once viewed and thought to be a great advancement for the helm of news. Television most certainly drifted from that stance in the last 3 decades. If only there were worthwhile, educational shows that weren't so explicit and violent. (Winn 13) The harmful effects of television weigh deep into the minds of adolescent minds through many means. The first and foremost of these is the loss of identity.

Adolescent minds watch television from an early age. With the age of television introduction becoming younger and younger, the younger viewers begin to watch television at a very early age, before their brains develop certain principles. 'Television is a large part of daily life.”(Winn 17) With this inflection of Media, the mind will grasp hold of principles differently than in previous decades. The viewer could view him or herself as the character in a favorite show, or think they are apart of the life going on around that show. Never realizing simple characteristic’s of fictional show and ultimately leading to serious mental difficulties in the future.

A separate peace illustrates the importance of self-identity loss through the character Gene. He looses his own selfdom in jealous and hatred for his own being. This same problem exists throughout the world of today, conveyed by television and the media.

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An Analysis of Self-Identity in A Separate Peace, a Novel by John Knowles. (2023, Mar 13). Retrieved from

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