"Separated World" by John Knowles

Topics: Seasons

In “A Separate Peace”, author John Knowles utilizes symbolism through Finny’s broken leg and the changing of seasons to depict Finny and Gene’s crumbling friendship, shedding light on how actions have consequences on later occurring events.

Knowles first gives an apparent example of recurring symbolism through Finny’s broken leg. This use of symbolism is seen when the author states, “I spent as much time as I could alone in our room, trying to empty my mind of every thought…” (Knowles 62).

Knowles describes Gene putting himself in isolation, as a symbol of him knowing nothing will be the same between his friend, staying away from him. This contributes to Gene’s actions having a toll on future events, leading to consequences. Another quote states, “Finny’s coordination, however, was such that any slight flaw became obvious, there was an interruption…” (Knowles 154). In this sentence, not only is Knowles talking about Finny’s weak leg but is also using it as a symbol of the boys’ friendship teetering.

It is a consequence of Gene’s actions previously and can be seen taking a toll on the characters. Knowles also describes a tense scene, stating “He sat down and turned his flushed face away from me. I sat next to him without moving for as long as my beating nerves would permit…” (Knowles 116). In this scene, the author describes a strained moment between the boys, with Finny’s broken leg (as a result of Gene) being used as a symbol, creating a barrier that keeps expanding between the boys’ friendship.

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It is part of the outcome of their actions and is affecting their future. In chapter nine, the author describes a silence in the boys, “After a long time he turned and reluctantly looked at me. Then at last Finny straightened from this prayerful position slowly, as though it was painful for him” (Knowles 172). In this quote, Finny realized it was Gene who caused his fall, with his crippled leg symbolizing the final straw of their failing friendship. His disabled leg shows how a person’s actions can lead to consequences in future events. The broken leg holds this symbolic value that represents the boy’s weakening bond, which is part of the consequence of their actions.

Knowles also utilizes symbolism through the progressive change of seasons throughout the book to emphasize the boys’ separating friendship. This can be seen in chapter seven, where the author states, “…I reckoned my responsibilities by the light of the unsentimental night sky and knew that I owed no one anything” (Knowles 102). Knowles describes Gene in the cold outdoors as winter approaches, acting as symbolism to reflect on the boys’ changing friendship. This elaborates on how their friendship is strained, leading to later consequences. Another quote describes the state of winter, “The sky is an empty hopeless gray and gives the impression that is its eternal shade” (Knowles 128). Not only is Knowles talking about the changing of seasons, but also using it as a recurring symbol of how Finny and Gene’s relationship is changing for the worse. The change to winter can show how a character’s actions can later turn into consequences, like a crumbling friendship for example. Knowles also describes a tree as a result of winter, stating as “The tree was not only stripped by the cold season, it seemed weary from age, enfeebled, dry. ” (Knowles 14). In this quote, the tree not only can be seen as a result of winter but can also symbolize the boys’ shriveling friendship, as a reflection of winter. Their dying friendship can be seen as a result of their previous doings in earlier events. In chapter six, the author describes Gene’s regrets from the past summer. “If only I had truly taken advantage of the situation, seized and held prized the multitudes of the advantages the summer offered me…” (Knowles 82). Here, symbolism is seen as Gene wishes something had changed between Finny and him, resulting in their friendship straying further and further. It is part of the outcome of their actions and is affecting their future events. The changing seasons in this book act as an indication of the boys’ friendship growing apart and can be seen as a consequence of earlier actions.

Knowles’ use of symbolism provides a deeper meaning in Gene and Finny’s friendship crumbling, as was seen in Finny’s broken leg and the changing of seasons. It allowed the author to express the larger idea that people’s actions can have consequences tied to them in the future.

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"Separated World" by John Knowles. (2022, Jun 23). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/separated-world-by-john-knowles/

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