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A Separate Peace


Introduction to A Separate Peace By John Knowles A Separate Peace Today s presentation Author Setting Plot Characters Literary Elements About the Author Phillips ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace
  • Introduction to

By John Knowles
A Separate Peace
  • Todays presentation
  • Author
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Literary Elements

About the Author
  • John Knowles
  • Born in West Virginia on September 16, 1926
  • Knowles was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy,
    which served as a model for the setting of A
    Separate Peace.
  • A Separate Peace was Knowles first work, which
    earned him the Rosenthal Award of the National
    Institute of Arts and Letters. This established
    Knowles as a successful author.

Phillips Exeter Academy
  • Devon School, the setting of A Separate Peace,
    is based heavily on the Phillips Exeter Academy.

Phillips Exeter Academy
Plot Overview
  • Story is told as a flashback to 16 years ago from
    Gene Forresters perspective
  • Gene was a quiet, intellectual student at the
    Devon School in New Hampshire.
  • During the summer session of 1942, Gene becomes
    close friends with Finny, his daredevil roommate
  • Finny prods Gene into making a dangerous jump out
    of a tree into a river, and the two start a
    secret society based on this ritual.
  • Gene becomes jealous of Finnys athletic
    accomplishments and convinces himself that Finny
    is trying to distract Gene from achieving
    academically. While Genes jealously turns into
    hate, he carefully maintains a relationship with
  • Gene admittedly watches as Finny falls from the
    tree, breaking his leg and ending his athletic

A Separate Peace Characters
  • Gene Forrester
  • Finny
  • Elwin Leper Lepellier
  • Brinker Hadley
  • Cliff Quackenbush
  • Chet Douglass 
  • Mr. Ludsbury
  • Dr. Stanpole
  • Mr. Patch-Withers

Gene Forester
  • Unreliable Narrator/protagonist
  • Gene is in his early thirties, visiting the Devon
    School for the first time in years.
  • Flashbacks to a story of his childhood from the
    vantage point of adulthood.
  • Has love-hate relationship with his best friend
  • Gene is also often jealous of Finny because he is
    good at everything and so carefree

  • Honest, handsome, energetic, self-confident,
    best athlete in the school
  • Extremely likable able to talk his way out of
    any situation
  • Gene describes Finny like that of a Greek hero
    (always excelling physically, always spirited.)
  • Finny loves the thrill of competition and does
    not care about winning/losing
  • Always thinks the best of people, counts no one
    as his enemy, and assumes that the world is a
    fundamentally friendly place.

Ellwin Leper Lepellier
  • Quiet, peaceful, nature-loving boy
  • Shocks his classmates by being 1st in Devon to
    enlist in the army
  • Shocks them again by deserting army shortly after
  • Leper has hallucinations that reflect the fears
    and angst of adolescence
  • He fears transformation of boys into menand, in
    wartime, of boys into soldiers, which causes
    anxiety and inner turmoil.

Brinker Hadley Cliff Quakenbush
  • Manager of the crew team
  • Boys at Devon have never liked Quackenbush
  • frequently takes out his frustrations on anyone
    whom he considers his inferior
  • straight-laced and conservative.
  • complete confidence in his own abilities
  • believes in justice and order and goes to great
    lengths to discover the truth when he feels that
    it is being hidden from him.

Chet Douglass Mr. Ludsbury
  • Genes main rival for the position of class
  • excellent tennis and trumpet player and
    possesses a sincere love of learning.

The master in charge of Genes dormitory Stern
Mr. Patch-Withers
Dr. Stanpole 
  • Devons resident doctor
  • Caring man who laments the troubles that
    afflict the youth of Genes generation.
  • Operates on Finny after his fall out of the tree
  • The substitute headmaster of Devon during the
    summer session.
  • Runs the school with a lenient hand

Literary Context
  • A Separate Peace belongs to a genre of
    literature called Bildungsroman. This is a
    German term which describes a novel whose main
    character matures over time, usually from
  • The novel is based on events that happened
    during Knowles years at the Phillips Exeter
  • Similar to Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace
    deals with children coming to terms with their
    identity set against the backdrop of World War.

Main Themes
Loss of Innocence. The plot is dominated by
Genes progression toward maturity. The
relationship between war and peace. The backdrop
of the war plays a vital role in the novel. The
nature of friendship. The relationship between
Gene and Finny is the novels focus. Peoples
ability to change. Is change really
possible? Biblical allegory. Finny Christlike
Gene Judas, betrayer
Historical Context
  • World War II
  • Began in 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland,
    and officially ended in August 1945, when the
    Japanese surrendered.
  • A Separate Peace takes place during the summer
    of 1942, directly in the center of World War II.
  • In America
  • In order to cope with the war, America
    instituted rations on books, sugar, coffee, and
    other goods.
  • To conserve gasoline, a national 35 MPH speed
    limit was implemented, and driving for pleasure
    was banned.
  • Most young women either dated older men, or
    didnt date at all!
  • By the summer of 1942, many Americans realized
    that the war was far from over.

The Axis Powers
  • Extreme nationalism
  • Militaristic expansion to restore Roman Empire
  • Charismatic leader
  • Belief in private property with strong government
  • Anti-communist
  • Installed in 1922
  • Made a pact with Hitler to exterminate Jews

  • Extreme nationalism and racism
  • Militaristic expansion
  • Charismatic leader/ played on fears and pride
  • Belief in private property with strong government
  • Anti-communist!
  • Gained power in 1933

  • He believed that the blond haired, blue eyed
    Germans were the dominant race. (Aryans)
  • He blamed the Jews for Germanys problems and
  • He ordered the boycott of Jewish shops, the
    burning of books written by Jewish authors, and
    the imprisonment of Jews in concentration camps.
    (beginnings of the Holocaust)

  • Tojo became militaristic Prime Minister for
    Emperor Hirohito
  • Militarism, Nationalism and Racism
  • Sought Asian empire for imperialist efforts

Prime Minister Hideki Tojo (above) and Emperor
Hirohito (below)
Pearl Harbor
  • Japan was desperate for oil.
  • They wanted to dominate the eastern world, and
    the Pacific, and guess who was standing in their
  • They launched a secret attack on Pearl Harbor on
    Dec. 7, 1941.
  • The attack destroyed 5 battleships, 3 cruisers,
    and several smaller vessels.
  • Nearly 2400 people died.
  • Fortunately, the Pacific fleets aircraft
    carriers were elsewhere.
  • Roosevelt called for Congress to declare war on
    Japan, they did.

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Pearl Harbor - Dec. 7, 1941
  • 2,400 Americans killed when Japanese war planes
    bomb Pacific Fleet to take out battleships and
  • 20 Warships sunk 150 planes destroyed
  • Japan also struck American bases in Pacific
  • FDR asks Congress for declaration of war - Day
    of Infamy - the next day
  • Germany Italy declared war on U.S.

Hitlers acts of aggression
  • Hitler was determined to return Germany to a
    dominant power and invaded the Rhineland- a
    section of Western Germany lost in the Treaty of
  • Hitler joins forces with Mussolini and becomes
    known as the Axis Powers
  • 1938 Hitler annexed Austria and demanded
    possession of Sudetenland- a section of
    Czechoslovakia inhabited by Germanic people

  • Japanese had lost most of their gains in China at
    the Washington Conference in 1921
  • 1924- U.S. joined other Western nations banning
    Chinese immigrants
  • 1931- Japan invaded and occupied Manchuria in
    northeastern China
  • League of Nations demanded they get out, Japan
    pulled out of the League
  • Continued aggression- seized Shanghai, Nanjing,
    Bejing, and other Southeast Asian countries.

Allied Forces- The Big 3
Franklin D. Roosevelt- U.S
Joseph Stalin- U.S.S.R.
Winston Churchill- England
  • England and France were terrified of becoming
    involved in another war, and adopted a policy of
  • They gave into the demands of Hitler, and assumed
    that he would be satisfied
  • Munich Conference-they agreed to allow Hitler to
    annex part of Czechoslovakia in return for the
    promise that he would make no further territorial
  • He took ALL of Czechoslovakia.

  • The Soviet Union under Stalin had originally
    signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler, but
    after Hitler invaded Poland, Stalin joined the
    Allied Forces.

  • Nov. 1942-Soviets counter attacked Germans and by
    Feb. the German forces were depleted to 1/3 of
    what they had been- they then surrendered.
  • In the Atlantic the allies used radar and sonar
    to find and destroy German subs, without these
    the German forces would be without food or

Africa in 1942
  • American and British forces worked to push Rommel
    and his Africal Korps into Tunisia.
  • Led by Major General Lloyd Fredendall and Major
    General George S. Patton
  • By May, Rommel had fled and nearly 250,000 Axis
    troops surrendered.

  • After victory in North Africa, Allies turned
    toward Italy.
  • July 1943, 82nd Airborne jumped into the toe of
  • The invasion was a success and they pushed toward
  • At this point, the Italians were sick of
    Mussolini and overthrew him.
  • They killed Mussolini, hung him in public, then
    dragged him behind a horse.
  • The Germans fought to the bitter end against the

  • Americans had gained knowledge of the Japanese
    attack on Midway island through the code
    breaking, and were well prepared for the attack.
  • June 4, 1942-Admiral Chester Nimitz sent planes
    out from the island to attack the Japanese as
    they were approaching, but most of them got shot
  • At 1042, the Japanese thought they had seen the
    last of the American planes and were refueling
    for a final attack on the island
  • A group of dive bombers who had gotten lost found
    their target.
  • 3 of the 4 Japanese ships were destroyed.
  • This was Japans last offensive move in the war

  • The last two major battles in MacArthurs island
    hopping were Iwo JIma and Okinawa
  • Iwo Jima measures only a few miles, but there
    were 20,000 American casualties
  • Japan starting using Kamikaze pilots
  • During the invasion of Okinawa, they made 279
    hits on American ships

Operation Overlord
  • Aim was to drive the Germans out of France and
    defeat the Third Reich
  • It was the greates amphibious invasion in history
  • 176,000 troops carried on 5,000 vessels crossed
    the English channel to land along a 60 mile
    stretch of Coastline, Normandy, France.
  • They landed June 6, 1944-D-Day

  • The Germans knew the attack was coming, but
    expected it to be near Calais, where the English
    Channel is the narrowest.
  • The Allies under the command of General Dwight D.
    Eisenhower landed safely on the beach of Normandy

Updated 2007
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • August 6, 1945 atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima
    and destroyed 60 of Hiroshima
  • Japan still refused to surrender, and 3 days
    later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on
    Nagasaki. August 9, 1945.
  • The 2 attacks took out about 150,000 lives
    immediately, and more with the after effects of
    the bombs.

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V-E Day and V-J Day
  • V-E Day May 7th, 1945
  • The Allies close in on Germany, Britain and the
    U.S. from the west and the Soviets from the east
  • April 30th, Hitler commits suicide
  • One week later, Germans surrender
  • V-J Day September 2, 1945
  • The U.S. drops two atomic bombs on Japanese
  • Threaten future attacks
  • Japan surrenders aboard the Missouri to Gen.
    Douglas MacArthur September 2, 1945

African Americans
  • One Million served in segregated units
  • Tuskegee Airmen first black flying unit
  • African Americans served in support roles
  • Faced discrimination
  • 1.5 million left South to find work out West
  • NAACP membership increased
  • Smith v. Allwright (1944) SCOTUS ruled
    unconstitutional to deny blacks party membership
    to exclude them from primaries

Mexican Americans
  • 300,000 Mexican Americans served in white units
    during the war
  • More worked in War Industry
  • 1942 deal with Mexico allowed farm workers to
    cross the boarder during harvest season
  • Caused white resentment (Zoot Suit Riots in Los
    Angeles summer of 1943

Minority Participation in WWII
  • Additional contributions of minorities
  • Navajo communication codes (oral, not written
    could not be broken by the Japanese)
  • Mexican Americans also fought, but not in
    segregated units
  • Minority units suffered high casualties and won
    numerous unit citations and individual medals for
    bravery in action

Native Americans
  • 25,000 served in military
  • Navajo Indian language used as a code against
    Japanese (spoken-not written)
  • Thousands Native Americans worked in war industry
  • More than half never returned to reservations

Home Front Industry
  • Many Businesses converted their businsseses to
    war product industries
  • Henry Ford turned to making B-24 liberator
  • The Government established the cost-plus system
    in which they paid all development and production
    costs plus a percentage of those costs as profit
    on anything a company made for the war.

Home Front
  • Coca-Cola said that every man gets a bottle of
    coke for 5 cents.
  • Henry Kaiser introduced mass production that
    could assemble a ship in 14 days.
  • His ships were called Liberty ships
  • The jeep got its name from G.P. for General
    Purpose vehicle. It was established during WWII
    and 650,000 of them were produced.

  • Ration stamps were given out to attempt to
    distribute essential goods fairly. (Meat,
    butter, sugar and gasoline)
  • Unemployment fell drastically
  • Wages went up
  • People joined unions

Costs of War
  • Federal Spending went from 9.4 billion dollars in
    1939 to 95.2 billion in 1945
  • The GNP more than doubled
  • A raise in taxes paid for approx 41 of the cost
    of the war
  • Revenue Act of 1942 increased the number of
    Americans who paid income taxes.
  • It levied a flat 5 tax on all incomes over 624
    per year. The rest of the money to pay for the
    war came from banks and private investors, and
    the public

Women and the War
  • While the men were off at war, women frequently
    worked in factories making war items.
  • A popular symbol for this was Rosie the Riveter
  • Boyfriend at war, young, Middle classed and a
  • Posters were created telling women it was their
    Patriotic duty to work during the war
  • Women made up 36 of the workforce

Home Front Society
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