The importance of Symbolism


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In the novel, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, many different objects symbolize characters. Various characters symbolize different topics in this novel. For example, Phineas is a big symbol because of his relationship with Gene. Another example would be the tree because it helped two friends bond because they go to the tree to play on it. Lastly, summer is another symbol because of the summer school that the kids had to go to.


Phineas takes a huge role in the novel as Gene’s best friend. An example would be when Finny and Gene are talking to Mr. Patch-Withers. We learn of Finny is a huge role when the book says,” I laughed along with Finny, my best friend, and also unique, able to get away with anything at all. (18)” This means that Gene is best friends with Finny, making Finny a main and important character. Another example would be when Finny and Gene start their own club together. We learn of this when the book states,” Finny also made a good jump, and the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session was officially established. (24)” The last example would be when Finny falls out of the tree and Gene does it on purpose but Finny does not believe him. This is saying that Finny is being a good friend by not accusing Gene of hurting him. As the reader can see, Finny takes a huge role in this book.


The tree is another vital character in this novel. On example would be when Gene and Finny make their club. We learn of the tree when the book says,” Rigid, I began climbing and the rungs slightly reassured by having Finny right behind me. (46)” This means that the tree is special because both Finny and Gene have lots of fun and quality time on the tree. Another example would be when Finny fell out of the tree. We learn of the tree when the book states,” Without unthinking sureness I moved out on the limb and jumped into the river, every trace of my fear of this forgotten. (32)” This explains that the tree can cause fun, but at the same time its can cause harm. The last example would be how they did not go and see the tree anymore. This is saying now that they know the tree can cause harm they do not visit it anymore. As the reader can see, the tree is also a very good character.


Summer is another important aspect of this novel. An example is when the boys are at summer school. We learn of summer when the book states,” For this was the summer session, just established just to keep up with the pace of war. (47)” This means that they are at summer school because they do not want to enlist into the war. Another example is when the summer days come to an end. We learn of the summer when the book states,” . . . there was the silence in which it was understood we were saying some prayers, and then the summer school days came to an end. (54)” This explains that the kinds at the summer school do not want it to end. The last example is when they make their club. This explains that Gene and Finny made their club based on summer. As the reader can see, summer is a huge role also.


Many symbols in the novel A Separate Peace make the reader look outside the box. Summer symbolizes not going to war. The tree symbolizes how someone can have fun and get hurt at the same time. Lastly, Phineas symbolizes the model friend. As the reader can see, symbolism takes a good role in this novel.