08 October 2007

The first chapter of A Separate Peace

This assignment is due Monday, Oct. 15 before class starts.

With the opening pages of A Separate Peace, John Knowles sets the scene for the rest of the story. The novel opens with Gene Forrester returning to his high school - the exclusive private boarding school Devon - and recalling the events of the summer 15 years earlier.

As we have discussed in class, the narrator - Gene - is telling the story from the perspective as an adult. Most of the novel is told in a flashback, and chapter one is where the flashback begins on page 14. Authors often drop hints in the opening chapters about the larger thematic ideas of the novel. A Separate Peace is no different.

Your assignment is to record a significant passage from the first chapter and write a 100 to 150 word response to in the comment section of this blog posting. Post your passage - it should be at least a sentence and most likely a little more. Here are some possible ideas to help you write your response: Why did you choose it? What ideas may ti relate to in the book? How does the setting come into play so far? What hints is the author providing about significant character traits or events in the novel? Does it remind you of any other stories or works of literature?

Cite your passage with the page number like so - "Words and sentences from the first chapter, blah, blah, blah..." (12)


Macy said...

“You were very good,” Said Finny good-humouredly, “Once I shamed you into it.”
“You didn’t shame anybody into anything.”
“Oh yes I did. I’m good for you that way. You have a tenancy to back away from things otherwise.”

As it appears, the character, Phineas, has a large influence upon Gene’s choices and opinions of the way he should do things. The fact that Phineas could trick or sort of pressure him into doing things means that Phineas is a likable character which gives him power. He also shows that he is the risk taking type who isn’t afraid of getting hurt. This foreshadows a potential conflict where Phineas asks Gene to do something he doesn’t want to do and trouble ensues.

Colin, Period 4 said...

“As we walked along I abruptly resented the bell and my West Point stride and hurrying and conforming. Finny was right.” (19)

The fact is Gene isn’t the type of kid to break rules on his own. He would be perfectly content just going about life normally. He needs someone to intervene and add a dash of excitement to his life; this person turns out to be Finny. Gene needs Finny to be his darker side, the side that will have no qualms with not showing up for dinner, or doing something potentially life threatening. Finny is Gene’s release, allowing him to break rules without feeling bad for it because he has someone at his side to do it with. Even though Gene needs Finny, he also resents him. He wishes he was a risk taker like Finny, someone who does not do a “West Point stride” or who does not care about conforming. He wants to be what Finny is.

chloe said...

"What was I doing up here anyway? Why did I let Finny talk me into stupid things like this? Was he getting some kind of hold over me?" (17)

Finny seems to be the main influence in Gene's life. Gene lets him talk him into doing more spontaneous things that he might not do normally. Gene and Finny are complete opposites that complete the other's personality. Gene doesn't appear to be the type of character that would go out of his way to break the rules like Finny is. He is more hesitant when it comes to getting in trouble and he is constantly thinking about his actions. Finny on the other hand is the rebellious one. He loves getting away with things. He breaks rules intentionally just because he knows he can get away with it. He is a very manipulative character and others are easily pressured by him. Gene tries to be like Finny because he wants to be Finny. In "The Kite Runner", Rahim wants to be in Hassan's postition and eventually lets it tear apart their friendship. Like "The Kite Runner", I think this is where the envy begins between Gene and Finny.

Emily, Period 6 said...

“So the more things remain the same, the more they change after all….Nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not even a death by violence.” (14)
I chose this quote because I thought that it was interesting. The fact that the tree is mentioned in this quote means that it probably plays a significant role in this story. It means that things are changing all the time, even when he doesn’t realize that anything is happening. As much as he might want things in his life to never change and to always be the same, there will be changes to deal with. There is foreshadowing in this quote. I can tell that something is going to cause a big change in Gene’s life. Love could be a main theme, and someone might die in the story. In this passage, Gene is looking back on his life.

Mike, Period 6 said...

Standing on this limb, you could by a prodigious effort jump far enough out into the river for safety. So we had heard…. No upper middler, which was the name for our class in the Devon School, had ever tried. Naturally Finny was going to be the first to try, and just as naturally he was going to inveigle others, us, into trying with him. (15)

I choose this quote because it shows the first time the boys at Devon school ever started to rebel. This may relate to the book as a whole because it marks the start of the boys’ rebellion at Devon school. So far it relates to the setting because the tree takes place on the school grounds, and the school grounds are the setting. This quote is showing important information about Finny and his friends. It is showing how Finny can be very daring and sometimes break the rules; a trait that may come to play later in the book. As for Finny’s friends it shows how they are always going along with Finny no matter what his choices may be; also something that may be important later in the book.

Lindsay, Per. 4 said...

"It was only long after that I recognized sarcasm as the protest of people who are weak." page 29

I chose this quote because to me it shows how Gene views himself. Within the first few pages or so we automatically know how Gene feels about his best friend Finny. He looks up to Finny in a way, and it seems as though Finny is an older brother figure to him. Gene sees himself as less than he sees Finny. He thinks he isn't as good as him. Gene says he is weak, and Finny is strong and athletic and is always there for him. This reminds me of the article we read on jealously. The author hints at the fact that Gene is quite jealous of his best friend Finny. Now in the novel, Gene enjoys having Finny as a best friend. The fact that he's jealous of Finny, makes me think that they may not be good friends forever. Gene's jealously may start to get the best of him.

Anonymous said...

"He of course saw nothing the slightest bit intimidating about it. He wouldn't, or wouldn't admit it if he did. Not Phineas." (14)

Gene is explaining Phineas's character. It shows Finny is adventurous and a risk taker. Finny probably doesn't think his actions through. Because of his careless actions, something bad may happen to Finny. Also, it may mean that Finny may cover up or hid his emotions instead of talking it out. He may do serious stunts to act like everything is ok and his life is perfect.

This may be foreshadowing that Finny may end up doing something careless in which he does get scared and admits it or he does get hurt. It may be one of the reasons why he and Gene may have a falling out.

This quote reminds me of Amir's and Hassan's relationship in "The Kite Runner." Amir was a very reserved character who tried to follow the rules and please others. Hassan on the other hand, one could say he was more of a risk taker and not afraid to speak his mind like Finny. He'd defend Amir in dangerous situations like Finny does for Gene.

-Jenna, Period 6

Anonymous said...

“The tree was not only stripped by the cold season, it seemed weary from age, enfeebled, dry. I was thankful, very thankful that I had seen it. So the more things remain the same, the more they change after all- plus c’est la meme chose, plus ├ža change. Nothing endures, not a tree, not even a death by violence.” (14)

I chose this passage because I think it will be important to the story. I think it is telling a little of what the story is about. I think it is foreshadowing about what the story is about. It talks about nothing enduring, not a tree and not a death by violence. I think someone in the story died by violence and Gene is letting us know that. I also think Gene is comparing himself to the tree. I think he is looking at it and thinking the tree looks old on the outside, but it is the same tree he knew when he was young. He is the same Gene, just older.
This reminds me of “The Kite Runner”. The personalities if the two friends are similar to the personalities of the two friends in “The Kite Runner”. Gene reminds me of Hassan who would do anything for Amir. Gene jumped off the big tree because Finny asked him to. Finny reminds me of Amir who asked Hassan to do things for him because he knew he would.

Megan period 6

Jostlyn per.4 said...

"We struggled in some equality for a while, and then when we were sure we were too late for dinner, we broke off."(19)

I chose this passage because it shows that Gene can rebel but he needs to be tricked into it or he realizes how fast he is conforming and knows that Finny is right. The fact that Gene makes them both late to dinner was very pleasing to Finny because he was making a point before saying that Gene was conforming. The setting in the book shows the emotions of Gene. In the beginning of the story the weather is unpleasant. Some hints that the author is showing about the characters is that Finny is a risk taker, likes to test the rules and likes to see if other people will follow his foot steps. Also he doesn’t like strict rules and conformity. I think that Gene is fast acting on the rules and conformity and when someone points it out he is quick to prove them wrong.

Sujata said...

""Is that what you like best?" I said sarcastically, I said a lot of things sarcastically that summer; that was my sarcastic summer, 1942." (15)

Finny just told that the tree was easy to climb. Gene sarcastically said if that's what he liked. The tree was "tremendous, an irate, steely black steeple"". They were not supposed to climb it. Gene makes a scrcastic remark taht if he really think they can climb it. This sarcasm was a protest of a weak. Since Finny is well built, he is more capable of doing things than others. He challenges others to do the things he wants to do. So later in the story, Gene might make sarcastic remarks. Jealousy might come in the role as well. Gene might find himslef less capable than Finny. This might cause barrier in their relationship. The sarcasm plays a heavy role in the novel because Gene calls it his "sarcastic summer of 1942." This reminds me of "The Kite Runner". Amir goes to the school and he is supposed to be smarter than Hassan. When he brings some puzzles and tests on Hassan, he finds out that Hassan is actually better than him as it. So, he never brings a puzzles for Hassan. Instead of saying out that he isn't good at it, he tries to hide that fact. And there is some jealousy. Similarly, Gene finds himself weaker than Finny. So, he tries to hide that fact. At the same time, he is jealous of his abilities.

Anonymous said...

"What was I doing up here anyway?Why did I let Finny talk me into stupid things like this? Was he getting some kind of hold over me?(14)
Even though Gene has only known Finny for a short time, it seems like already Finny is starting to shape Gene into a person like him. Normally, Gene is the type of person who would never break the rules. Finny, of course, is the exact opposite, not only ignoring them but also doing whatever he wants. Gene needs a type of friend like this to show him that there is more to life than just conforming to the rules. You need to take chances and try new things. Take the whole tree situation. No one other than the seniors have jumped from the tree. But Finny, being the person that he is, does and then challenges Gene to do the same. When Gene jumps off, it's like he's starting a new part of his life that involves being more carefree. Finny realizes that he has some control over this part since he was the one that told Gene to jump. I think he will use this to his advantage later in the book.

Anonymous said...

Naturally Finny was going to be the first to try, and just as naturally he was going to inveigle others, us, into trying with him. (15)

I choose this quote because it is showing that Finny is a great leader. I think that this quote will also show that Finny is going to lead the rebellion of Devon. If they due get drafted into the military then maybe Finny will become a great leader. This quote also shows that Finny is a daring person because he is the first to try to jump from the tree in his grade. Since Finny is going to try to get them to follow him in jumping off the tree limb then he might be able to control Gene to help him start the rebellion because these two characters are the complete opposite. Finny is a complete trouble maker and Gene follows all the rules. I think that Finny is trying to see if Gene will rebel against the school rules because he will be the last one to expect to do it.

Andrew Per. 4

Anonymous said...

"As we walked along I abruptly resented the bell and my West Point stride and hurrying and conforming.Finny was right."

I chose this quote because i think it tells us alot about the character Gene already. I don't think he's a very independent person. i think that if Finny decided to go to dinner, Gene would be right beside him, he wouldn't not go on his own. He probably is asshamed for some reason of who he really is, so if he just said "no" to Finny it would make him look bad, and he's afraid Finny would make fun of him. He seemed proud of it in a way to with his "West Point stride."

jess period 4

Maria Period 6 said...

"Why was I doing up here anyway? Why did I let Finny talk me into stupid things like this? Was he getting some kind of hold over me?" (17)

I chose this passage because it shows a lot about the main characters, Finny and Gene. Gene is questioning himself about the daring events he is about to partake in. By questioning his dangerous actions, it is easy to tell that Gene doesn’t take many chances and isn’t one to do many stupid things. Gene is more obedient about the rules. Only Finny can talk Gene into doing crazy things. That must mean that Finny has a big influence on Gene’s actions and manipulates Gene into doing a lot of impulsive things. Finny is more of a daredevil and one to take risks in his life. The end of this passage is almost implying that Finny might take control of Gene’s actions and pressure Gene into doing the wrong things. This may turn into a real problem if Finny continues to have negative influences in Gene’s life and his decisions.

Mike P. P-4 said...

" You were very good, "said Finny good-humoredly, "Once i shamed you into it." (18)

No matter what Gene said later in the chapter in response to Finny's claim above, Finny was right as he always was. I could tell just from reading the first chapter that Gene would be a normal "goody two shoes" that would never break the rules and always follow regulations and would of definetly not have even thought about jumping off that tree without the guilt form Finny. Even though Finny causes gene to break rules and do dangerous things, I think that gene needs Finny in his life. I think that in the rest of the novel we will see how Finny's restlessness and urge to do what he wants will help Gene become a much better person and a much better soldeir if they are sent to war.

Anonymous said...

“I didn’t entirely like this glossy new surface, because it made the school look like a museum, and that’s exactly what it was to me, and what I did not want it to be.” Page 9

I chose this quote because it mad me think about how things in your life change along with the ways you change. I think that this was an important part in the book because it showed how Gene felt about the school and how he wanted it to be the same as it was 15 years ago. I think that this explains that now that the war is over and the school has more money they don’t have to worry about money and can change the school to make it look 100 times better. In my opinion I think that the author is that Gene doesn’t like change because he went to this school and now they changed in the way that he doesn’t like because it doesn’t seem to fit together in his mind. In a way I think that this book has to do with “The Lie” because when the father goes to the school he doesn’t feel like he can go back because

Said AnneMarie Period 4

Chelsea period 4 said...

“Perhaps the school wasn’t as well kept up in those days; perhaps varnish, along with everything else, had gone to war.” (Page 9)
I chose this passage because I thought it gave a good idea of what things were like when Gene went to the Devon School. Although varnish cannot really go to war, Gene was using it to get the point across of how bad things were when the war was going on. He said that everything went to war. This comes into the setting of the book, because this entire book is based on Gene’s growing up and going to school during a war. The author is providing hints that Gene was affected by what he went through at the Devon School. Normally, visits back to places aren’t so important, unless they are full of memories; both good and bad. Gene had some very serious memories coming back to the school; it was an important visit for him. This gives us a clue that maybe very bad things did happen to Gene during all of this war madness. This passage also shows us that Gene could be a very meaningful character, and he cares about what he has been through, and things in life more than others may.

Charlotte 4 said...

"He ofourse saw nothing the slightest bit intimidating about it. He wouldn't, or wouldn't admit it if he did. Not Phineas." p14

I choose this passage because it makes Finny sound Fearless. As is he is unstoppable. This passage related to the book by Finny climbing up the tree. The setting relates to the book so far because Gene returns to it after 15 years at Devon School. He says Finny and him used to climb it when they were still students there. I wonder why Gene speaks so highly of Finny.

Charlotte p4

Anonymous said...

"We were careless and wild, and I suppose we could be thought of as a sign of the life the war was being fought to reserve. ...They noticed our games tolerantly. We reminded them of what peace was like, of lives which were not bound up with destruction." (24)

This kind of reminds me of the war that we are going through now. It's a bit different because there aren't many people that will be going straight to the war when they graduate, but as young teenagers, we try not to think about it. I think we are mostly just trying to have fun and we will worry about the war if it gets worse. The reason that these 16 year olds had so much freedom was because the draft forced them to go to war the next year. It would be really scary if we had a draft now and we had to go to war at such a young age. This passage also lets us know that this group of kids will be able to get away with things a lot easier than everyone else. This isn't just because Finny knows how to get them out of trouble, it is because it is their last year to have fun. This may come into play later in the story.

Colleen p. 4

Kevin p4 said...

"As we walked rapidly along I abruptly resented the bell and my West Point stride and hurrying and conforming. Finny was right...When I jumped on top of him, my knees on his chest, he couldn't ask for anything better. We struggled in some equality for a while, and then when we were sure we were too late for dinner, we broke off."(19)

I chose this excerpt from the first chapter because the competitive bond of Gene and Finny's seemed to produce a peculiar liberated atmosphere. Briefly, Gene is one you might regard as a conservative follower perhaps, whereas inversely Finny is one you might regard as a liberal, rule-bending leader. In theory, they are together in order to counteract each others thoughts and actions; in order to reach an emotional equilibrium. Gene will guide Finny as Finny will guide Gene. This quote is so important because it represents the strength that their bond resulted in. The event of the deliberate skipping of lunch would have never occured if they were separated. To me, their bond, and the event in which it resulted in, naturally seemed to be the most distinguished area of the text; therefore I consider it to possibly be the foundation of all of the significant future events.

Anonymous said...

“What was I doing here anyway? Why did I let Finny talk me into stupid things like this? Was he getting some kind of hold over me?” (17)

I chose this passage because it shows what Gene and Finny’s relationship is like. Finny is the leader of the group and usually tells everyone what to do and how to do it. Gene usually just goes with whatever finny is doing and never really protests. It depicts the scene where they both jump off the tree for the first time and they know that they’re not supposed to. Gene is the one that always tries to keep out of trouble and Finny, being the opposite, always drags Gene into trouble making. Gene starts to fell that Finny has some sort of mental control over him and makes him do stupid things. It might be a clue that Finny is going to get Gene to do something that they both will regret.
-Mike K.

Anonymous said...

"Aey-uh," he said. This weird New England affimative-maybe it is spelled "aie-huh"- always made me laugh, as Finny knew, so I had to laugh, which made me feel less sarcastic and less scared." (15)

I chose this passage because it shows the significance of a friendship. Any "good" friend will make you crack a smile even when you're having the worse day or going through the worse times ever. It's almost as if Gene depends on Finny too much and maybe that's where his insecurities come from. You can tell that Gene is envious or jealous of some of the qualities Finny posesses. He almost relies on Finny to get them out of trouble though or to make Gene feel reassured. The way Finny takes care or looks after Gene is very touching. All friends should contain those qualities; where they will make their friend happy all the time no matter what's going on. The author is hinting that their friendship is really going to have an impact upon Gene because he wouldn't be thinking about if he didn't care enough to reminisce about it. Therefore, this passage implies that this means a lot to Gene to have such a friend who willingly makes him smile even when he doesn't want to.

Theresa p4

Kristina Period 4 said...

“ Finny was right. And there was only one way to show him this. I threw my hip against his, catching him by surprise, and he was instantly down, definitely please. This is why he liked me so much” (19)

I chose this passage because it shows the friendship and relationship Gene and finny have. It relates to the idea of preparing for war and what they essentially are going to do after graduating, which is to become a soldier or hero. The setting comes into play because it shows how strict the school can with the curfews and it shows how much they train to become the best athlete and survive situations such as war. The author is providing traits about Finny to be a strong boy who wants to help his friend do the same. Also the author points out that Gene want to become as strong as Finny and could be jealous of what he has. Jealously may turn from Gene to Finny in the end.