A Separate Peace
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. To what extent should we consider Gene to be an unreliable narrator? How does this concern affect our understanding of the story that he tells and our attitude toward him?
2. Discuss the relationship between codependency and identity in A Separate Peace and how these concepts help define the relationship between Gene and Finny.
3. How does World War II function in the novel on a symbolic and thematic level? How does it relate to the title of the book?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. What role does Leper play in the novel? What does the author suggest about the nature of his relationship to Gene and Finny?
2. Discuss the importance of setting in specific scenes through-out the novel, especially in regard to what it reveals about characters and events. How do natural settings contrast with or complement the thematic content of certain scenes?
3. Contrast Brinker and Finny. How do their personalities relate to the winter session and summer session, respectively?
4. Discuss the symbolism of Finny’s fall. Is A Separate Peace a novel of sin and redemption? Is Gene redeemed in the end?
5. Analyze the role of competition in the relationship between Gene and Finny. How does Finny’s invented game of “blitzball” work as a symbol of Finny’s approach to competition? Why is it significant that he excels at sports while Gene shines in academics?
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