A Separate Peace


By John Knowles


© May 5, 2004

Jeremy VanDerKern

Keene High School, New Hampshire




1)     Discuss the Positive and Negative aspects of a co-educational (boys and girls) environment using a Pro/ Con CHART.

2)     Recount a personal experience you have had with “peer pressure.”

3)     Recount a souring relationship you have been in or observed.

4)     Recount a time when you were faced with a frightening challenge/dare/ bet.  How did you feel before/ during/ after?

5)     Create an author biography outline for John Knowles.

6)     Enrichment:  Define “Separate” and “Peace.”  Using your definitions, make an inference about what themes John Knowles’ book, A Separate Peace might address.


Extra Credit Opportunities


1)     Keep a journal of any references made in A SEPARATE PEACE to the environment (especially New Hampshire).  When you have finished reading the book, write a three-page essay explaining the effect the environment had on the story/ characters/ plot/ climax/ ending/ etc. 

2)     Keep a journal of any references made to the time period (events, people, places, music, literature, etc.).  When you have finished reading the book, write a three-page essay explaining the effect the time period had on the story/ characters/ plot/ climax/ ending/ etc.

3)     Research a local boarding school (academic curriculum, clothing styles, social activities, dormitories, sports, and rules)


Chapter One


1)                 Begin to draw DEVON SCHOOL.

2)                 Describe the TREE & Discuss any symbolism.

3)                 Quotation Journal:  “Nothing endures, not a tree, not love, not even death by violence.”  (1/2 page personal interpretation)

4)                 Study Guide

5)                 Chapter One Vocabulary

6)                 Enrichment:  Listen to The Warsaw Concerto & The Nutcracker Suite and give an emotional response.

7)                 Practice TEST


Chapter Two


1)     Explain why “sunburned health” is an oxymoron.

2)     Discuss how the relationship between DEVON students and DEVON teachers change during the summer.

3)     Quotation Journal:  “It was only long after that I recognized sarcasm as the protest of people who are weak.”

4)     Study Guide

5)     Chapter Two Vocabulary

6)     Enrichment:  Create a list of your friends (you may change the names) and next to each name write down WHY YOU ARE FRIENDS WITH THESE PEOPLE.

7)     Practice TEST


Chapter Three


1)     Discuss which rules Finny adheres to and which rules he ignores.

2)     Explain the personification of the Wave and Gene’s subsequent feelings regarding it.

3)     Quotation Journal:  “Always say some prayers at night because it might turn out that there is a God.”

4)     Study Guide

5)     Chapter Three Vocabulary

6)     Enrichment:  Discuss Gene’s concept of a “moment in history” in your own words.  Can you relate to this concept?  Explain.

7)     Practice TEST


Chapter Four


1)     Discuss the allusion made comparing Finny to Lazarus.

2)     Discuss the allusion Gene makes between himself and Mahatma Gandhi.

3)     Quotation Journal:  “Chet was weakened by the very genuineness of his interest in learning.”

4)     Study Guide

5)     Chapter Four Vocabulary

6)     Enrichment:  According to Gene, he and Phineas are equal in enmity.  Is this a true statement?  Explain in detail.

7)     Practice TEST


Chapter Five


1)     Discuss the allusion made comparing Gene to General Macarthur.

2)     Discuss the symbolism of the Fire behind Gene’s house.

3)     Quotation Journal:  “Its rigid back and high armrests immediately forced me into a righteous posture.”

4)     Study Guide

5)     Chapter Five Vocabulary

6)     Enrichment:  Based on Gene’s “biggest lie of all” predict how is Gene going to behave in the future?

7)     Practice TEST


Chapter Six


1)     Discuss Gene’s theory that “if you broke the rules, then they broke you.”

2)     Discuss Gene’s feelings about competitive sports…before and after his conversation with Phineas.

3)     Quotation Journal:  “If only I had truly taken advantage of the situation, seized and held and prized the multitudes of advantages the summer offered me; if only I had.”

4)     Study Guide

5)     Chapter Six Vocabulary

6)     Enrichment:  Discuss the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind Forgive Our Foolish Ways and why it is especially relevant.

7)     Practice TEST


Chapter Seven


1)     Discuss Gene’s trip to the “Butt Room” and how close the boys came to the truth.

2)     Discuss the personification of the snow.

3)     Quotation Journal:  “In our free democracy, even fighting for its life, the truth will out.”

4)     Study Guide

5)     Chapter Seven Vocabulary

6)     Enrichment:  What decision does Gene come to at the end of the chapter?  What metaphoric cog is unexpectedly thrown in Gene’s metaphoric wheel? Do you predict he will still follow through with his plans?  Why/ why not? 

7)     Practice TEST


Chapter Eight


1)     Discuss Gene’s simile comparing the war to an ocean wave.

2)     Discuss the concrete and abstract smells of the locker room.

3)     Discuss Finny’s belief about loving winter and love in general.

4)     Quotation Journal:  “I began to know that each morning reasserted the problems of the night before, that sleep suspended all but changed nothing, that you couldn’t make yourself over between dawn and dusk.”

5)     Quotation Journal:  “Since so much of learning anything depends on the atmosphere in which it is taught.”

6)     Study Guide

7)     Chapter Eight Vocabulary

8)     Enrichment:  Explain Finny’s theory about the “war” and how this theory relates to the theme(s) in 1984.

9)     Enrichment:  Find or write your own five (5) aphorisms.

10)Practice TEST


Chapter Nine


1)     Find reference(s) or inspiration for the title, A Separate Peace, in chapter 9, and explain why this is an important chapter.

2)     Describe the personification of Winter.

3)     Quotation Journal:  “Everything has to evolve or else it perishes.”

4)     Quotation Journal:  “Peace is indivisible, and the surrounding world confusion found no reflection inside me.”

5)     Study Guide

6)     Chapter Nine Vocabulary

7)     Enrichment:  Organize an Event for KHS (It doesn’t have to be as big as The Keene Pumpkin Festival).

8)     Practice TEST


Chapter Ten


1)     Discuss the glimpse into Gene’s future given at the beginning of chapter 10?  What causes this “flash-forward”?

2)     Discuss and assess Leper’s condition.

3)     Quotation Journal:  “You aren’t lost for something to do in dining rooms.  It’s in the living room where people can’t figure out what to do with themselves.”

4)     Quotation Journal:  “…in that deep layer of the mind where all is judged by the five senses and primitive expectation, I knew that nothing would ever grow there [barren Vermont fields in winter] again.”

5)     Study Guide

6)     Chapter Ten Vocabulary

7)     Enrichment:  Give an emotional/analytical response to Gene’s “primitive expectation” of both Vermont fields and Leper’s condition.

8)     Practice TEST


 Chapter Eleven


1)     Give an emotional response to Finny’s statement to Gene:  “Naturally I don’t believe books and I don’t believe teachers, but I do believe—it’s most important after all for me to believe in you.”

2)     Discuss the practicality of having Leper “testify” at the “inquiry” and comment on some of his unique comparisons.  What type of a witness does Leper turn out to be?  Why?  (The more insightful the better!)

3)     Quotation Journal:  “But by now I no longer needed this vivid false identity; now I was acquiring, I felt, a sense of my own real authority and worth, I had had many new experiences and I was growing up.”

4)     Study Guide

5)     Chapter Eleven Vocabulary

6)     Enrichment:  What parallels can be drawn between the snowball fight at the beginning of chapter 10 and the “inquiry” at the end of chapter 10?

7)     Practice TEST


Chapter Twelve


1)     Discuss what resulted as a result of Finny’s second accident?

2)     Explain the connection that exists between Gene and Finny.

3)     Quotation Journal:  “I idly considered stealing it, in the way that people idly consider many crimes it would be possible for them to commit.”

4)     Quotation Journal:  “My brief burst of animosity, lasting only a second, a part of a second, something which came before I could recognize it and was gone before I knew it had possessed me, what was that in the middle of this holocaust?”

5)     Study Guide

6)     Chapter Twelve Vocabulary

7)     Enrichment:  Explain Gene’s “Double Vision” experience.

8)     Practice TEST


Chapter Thriteen


1)     Discuss some of the coping techniques the people in Gene’s life use to deal with traumatic situations (like war).

2)     Discuss how Phineas affected Gene, Gene’s outlook on life, Gene’s process of self-discovery, and Gene’s perception of the world.

3)     Quotation Journal:  “I was ready for the war, now that I no longer had any hatred to contribute to it.  My fury was gone, I felt it gone, dried up at the source, withered and lifeless.”

4)     Quotation Journal:  “Because it seemed clear that wars were not made by generations and their special stupidities, but that wars were made instead by something ignorant in the human heart.”

5)     Study Guide

6)     Chapter Thirteen Vocabulary

7)     Enrichment:  Hypothesize how the outcome of the story (and maybe even Gene himself) would have differed if Gene never went to the infirmary to drop off Finny’s backpack.

8)     Practice TEST




1)     Watch the movie version of A Separate Peace.  Compare and contrast the major differences between the two using a Venn diagram

2)     Revise your initial interpretation of the meaning of the title A Separate Peace.

3)     Edit and finalize all character profiles for final submission.

4)     Complete Final Essay Questions

5)     Enrichment:  Read any other book written by John Knowles (i.e. Double Vision, Morning in Antibes) and complete a standard book report.


a.      Practice TEST