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Eden In A Separate Peace Essay, Research Paper

In his novel A Separate Peace, John Knowles follows the experiences of Gene Forester during two very profound years of his life. A noteworthy aspect of his writing is his imaginative and thoughtful use of symbolism throughout his novels. In A Separate Peace, one can observe several symbolic patterns. A prevalent set of these symbolic patterns is the Garden of Eden.In analysis of the text, one can conclude that the early Devon school symbolizes the Garden of Eden. When describing Devon, there are tranquil and serene images similar to those of the Garden of Eden. Underfoot the healthy green turf was brushed with dew, and ahead of us we could see a faint green haze hanging above the grass…I could hear cricket noises and bird cries of dusk. The countryside was striking from here, a deep green sweep of playing fields and bordering shrubbery, with the school stadium white and miniature looking across the river The title of the book itself is in reference to Devon and the Garden of Eden. Devon was a separate peace, cut off from everything else, just as the Garden of Eden was. One minor correspondence is that both Devon and the Garden of Eden were between two rivers. Also noticeable is that each location had an important tree that caused the downfall of major characters. These similarities help to establish that the Garden of Eden was symbolic of the Garden of Eden.Parallelism is apparent when concerning the tree from which Finny fell with comparison to the tree of knowledge that caused Adam and Eve to fall from grace. Negative images are predominant in the description of this tree. The tree was tremendous, an irate, steely black steeple beside the river. The black steeple implies that tree was evil and almost satanic by nature, just as the tree of knowledge was. This tree flooded me with a sense of alarm all the way up to my fingers. My head began to feel unnaturally light, and the vague rustling sounds from the nearby woods came to me as though muffled and filtered. It had loomed in my memory as a huge spike dominating the river bank, forbidding as an artillery piece, high as the beanstalk. Again, negative imagery is used to describe the tree as bigger than life, dominating everything around it, almost as a warning of its destructiveness. The tree of knowledge caused the downfall of Adam and Eve in Eden; this tree caused downfall in the lives of Gene and Finny in Devon.

The snake in the garden can be seen as the savage underneath the gentle facade Gene shows to the world. Just below the surface of Gene s pleasant facade, there is a deeper evil. I should have told him then that he was my best friend also and rounded off what he had said. I started to; I nearly did. But something held me back. Perhaps I was stopped by that level of feeling, deeper than thought, which contains the truth. Gene s deeper evil is shown as conniving, like the snake, as he thinks to himself a little while before he causes Finny to fall. I found a single sustaining thought … You and Phineas are even already. You are even in enmity …You did hate him for breaking that school swimming record, but so what? …He hated you for getting an A in every course but one last term. You would have had an A in that one except for him. Except for him. This underlying savagery and the snake in the Garden of Eden can be regarded as representative of each other.The fall of Finny can be regarded as symbolic of the fall from grace of Adam and Eve. Gene s vault in fear can also be regarded as a fall. Just as the snake causes Eve to take a to bite of an apple from the tree of knowledge resulting in the fall from grace, Gene s deeper evil causes him to jounce the limb, causing a fall in his life as well as Finny s. Eve is viewed as weak, not evil for giving in temptation. Gene should be viewed similarly, as he did not intentionally try to hurt Finny; he had just momentarily succumb to his deeper evil. After this fall, the lives of Gene and Finny stop being tranquil and serene and start being full of turmoil. The first ever summer session in Devon is much harsher than the winter sessions. Peace had deserted Devon. If you broke the rules, then they broke you. This sudden fall in the lives of Gene and Finny is comparable to the fall from grace of Adam and EveIn A Separate Peace, one can observe much symbolism of the Garden of Eden and the fall from grace. The garden, the snake, the tree and the fall from grace all are symbolically present in the novel. This symbolism helps to strengthen the underlying themes in this book.


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