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20+ Important 'A Separate Peace' Quotes By John Knowles Explained

Quotes from 'A Separate Peace' about Finny are about life and its insight.

The novel 'A Separate Peace' is based on the short story 'Phineas', which was published in May 1956.

The story revolves around Gene Forrester, a 16-year-old student preparing to go to a preparatory school in New Hampshire during the time of World War II. The story is also a psychological insight into maturing, friendship, honesty, and how to overcome separation and achieve peace.

You can find out all about these themes and more through these important quotes in 'A Separate Peace'. John Knowles's quotes speak to the reader about morality, patriotism, and loss of innocence.

We have compiled a list of 'A Separate Peace' book quotes along with rivalry quotes, 'A Separate Peace' quotes about Finny, important quotes from 'A Separate Peace', jealousy quotes in 'A Separate Peace', Gene quotes, and some quotes about death and life that are foreshadowing in 'A Separate Peace'.

If you like these John Knowles quotes from 'A Separate Peace', then check out these [1984 telescreens quotes] and ['Lord Of The Flies' quotes] for more.

'A Separate Peace' Quotes About War

Book lovers will love these 'A Separate Peace' themes and quotes.

Here we have mentioned some war quotes from 'A Separate Peace', to understand the impact the war had on the boys. We have found the best 'A Separate Peace' war quotes to understand the characters and their emotions more deeply. The list also includes some beautiful Gene Forrester quotes, 'A Separate Peace' competition quotes, and 'A Separate Peace' quotes about the tree just for you.

1. “'Listen, pal, if I can’t play sports, you’re going to play them for me,' and I lost part of myself to him then, and a soaring sense of freedom revealed that this must have been my purpose from the first: to become a part of Phineas."

-John Knowles.

This quote from chapter eight, reflects the relationship between Gene and Finny. Through this telephone conversation, they both are discussing how their lives have made them resent each other. In the quote, Gene gives Finny a sense of self and allows us to see their moral shortcomings.

2. "Fear seized my stomach like a cramp. I didn’t care what I said to him now; it was myself I was worried about. For if Leper was psycho it was the army which had done it to him, and I and all of us were on the brink of the army."

-John Knowles.

This quotation comes from chapter 10, it focuses on Leper's confession about hallucinations and why he deserted the army. Gene earlier saw Leper as a gentle nature-lover and now he could only see him as a verified “psycho”. The image of Leper shatters the illusion Gene has created about Leper.

3. "I never killed anybody and I never developed an intense level of hatred for the enemy. Because my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there. Only Phineas never was afraid, only Phineas never hated anyone."

-John Knowles.

In these final words from Gene, the readers come to know that Gene saw Finny as his enemy. These words revealed his experiences at Devon and then in the war.

4. "They snapped at the heels of the seniors, driving, and molding and arming them for the war. They noticed our games tolerantly. We reminded them of what peace was like, of lives that were not bound up with destruction."

-John Knowles.

In this quote the narrator lets the reader reminisce on Gene's life as an adult in his thirties, on how he enjoyed this carefree period with his friends despite World War II.

5. “'No maids,' I said. 'After all, there’s a war on. It’s not much of a sacrifice when you think of people starving and being bombed and all the other things.' My unselfishness was responding properly to the influences of 1942."

-John Knowles.

In this quote, Gene explains to Finny why they have no maids. Gene believed that during the war, maids were absorbed in more important work. Gene shows unselfishness and self-sacrifice here.

6. "Nothing endures. Not a tree. Not love. Not even death by violence."

-John Knowles.

This is the most famous of the 'A Separate Peace' tree quotes, it is about the friendship between Gene and Finny. The love and friendship, the two shared are lost when Finny falls from the tree and later dies.

'A Separate Peace' Friendship Quotes

Have you read 'A Separate Peace?

Here we have mentioned some beautiful 'A Separate Peace' quotes about friendship.

7. "To keep silent about this amazing happening deepened this shock for me. It made Finny seem too unusual for - not friendship, but too unusual for rivalry. And there were few relationships among us at Devon not based on rivalry."

-John Knowles.

In this quote, the readers come to learn that Gene always wanted to be Finny's friend. Their friendship is displayed as different to those of other boys at Devon.

8. "Finny pressed his advantage. Not because he wanted to be forgiven… he might rather have enjoyed the punishment if it was done in some novel and unknown way. He pressed his advantage because Mr. Prud’homme was pleased, won over in spite of himself."

-John Knowles.

In this quote, Gene and Finny have explained to Mr. Prud’homme that they decided to jump of tree to prove their loyalty to the Secret Society. They are pleased that he is secretly impressed by their actions.

9. "I did not cry then or ever about Finny. I did not cry even when I stood watching him being lowered into his family's strait-laced burial ground outside of Boston. I could not escape a feeling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case"

-John Knowles.

This quote reveals that Gene's felt that he too had died when Finny did, such was the close bond between the two friends.

10. "Phineas didn’t really dislike West Point in particular or authority in general, but just considered authority the necessary evil against which happiness was achieved by reaction, the blackboard which returned all the insults he threw at it."

-John Knowles.

In this quote, the author hints at what is about to come in the next chapters. Readers get a hint that something is about to happen, something that will change the course of the youths.

11. "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?"

- John Knowles.

In this quote, readers learn about Gene's love for Finny's youthful naivety, and how easily he was influenced by his friend's opinion.

12. "Although they were old stairs, the worn moons in the middle of each step were not very deep. The marble must be unusually hard. That seemed very likely, only too likely, although with all my thought about these stairs this exceptional hardness had not occurred to me. It was surprising that I had overlooked that, that crucial fact."

-John Knowles.

In this quote the author talks about Gene's recollection of the school, his old memories and his friend Finny.

13. "This was the tree, and it seemed to me standing there to resemble those men, the giants of your childhood, whom you encounter years later and find that they are not merely smaller in relation to your growth, but that they are absolutely smaller, shrunken by age."

-John Knowles.

In this quote, the readers see Gene recall how life was simple when he was younger. Now that everything has changed, he has lost something intangible.

14. "'You aren't going to start playing by the rules, are you?' I grinned at him. 'Oh no, I wouldn't do that,' and that was the most false thing of all."

-John Knowles.

In this quote, we can see that Finny has a rebellious streak in his nature. He leads others to trouble with this, as without Phineas, Gene has no motivation to violate or break rules.

15. "Brinker the lawgiver had turned rebel for the duration."

-John Knowles.

In this quote, the reader sees that Finny's visit to Devon has brought fun and enjoyment into the regimented lives of those these, even Brinker, who is a devout rule follower.

16. "If a war can drive somebody crazy, then it's real all right. Oh I guess I always knew, but I didn't have to admit it"

- John Knowles.

Here we Finny's eventual acceptance of the war. His dreamland, in which there was no war or ill will, has been hit by the reality he has witnessed.

17. "What'd you come around here for last night?"

-John Knowles.

This line shows that rules in place at Devon. These rules change as Gene's friendship with Finny develops and the reader realizes that friendship is the key theme of the novel.

18. "I found a single sustaining thought... You and Phineas are even already."

-John Knowles.

Gene has built up an out and out competition with Finny, who he's starting to loathe for his athletic aptitude. Here readers discover that Gene is equal to Finny, as if Finny is number one in athletics, then Gene is first in academics.

19. "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."

-John Knowles.

In this quote, the reader sees how much Finny trusts and appreciates Gene. Here they boys reveal that exposing feelings can be scary, but ultimately the boys show each other how much they value their friendship.

20. "Peace is indivisible, and the surrounding world confusion found no reflection inside me."

-John Knowles.

In this quote, the author reveals that Finny cannot accept that the war is occurring. He is unable to connect the harsh realities of the world around him with his positive outlook on life.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for important 'A Separate Peace' quotes by John Knowles explained, then why not take a look at these ['Pride And Prejudice' quotes] or quotes from 'The Book Thief' for more?

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The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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