A Separate Peace

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The Devon School Symbol Icon
Gene and Finny's school is an oasis from change. A 160 year-old institution, Devon has successfully weathered the wars of the past and has changed just enough to adapt to the changes in society. One of Gene's first observations about the school is that it can adapt to change harmoniously; this thought inspires Gene to think that perhaps he too can change just enough to maintain his happiness.

The Devon School Quotes in A Separate Peace

The A Separate Peace quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Devon School. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of A Separate Peace published in 2003.
Chapter 3 Quotes
"To keep silent about this amazing happening deepened the 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."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny")
Related Symbols: The Devon School
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

Phineas -- who was known as Finny to his friend Gene -- breaks a school record for 100 Yards Free Style (without practicing for this endeavor) while only Gene is watching him swim in the pool. Yet, Phineas does not want to add to his impressive list of athletic prizes by repeating this feat with a more public audience. He asks Gene to keep it "just between you and me," inspiring Gene to wonder about his friend's motives. Gene considers that Phineas might want to impress him, or that Phineas might simply be above rivalry. For an individual as competitive as sixteen-year-old Gene (and all his competitive, jealous peers at the Devon School), this must be a frustrating possibility. Phineas was not only one of the best students, but he seemed to live in a wholly separate existence above all of his peers. 


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Chapter 6 Quotes
"Across the hall...where Leper Lepellier had dreamed his way through July and August amid sunshine and dust motes and windows through which the ivy had reached tentatively into the room, here Brinker Hadley had established his headquarters. Emissaries were already dropping in to confer with him."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Brinker Hadley, Elwin "Leper" Lepellier
Related Symbols: Fall (Autumn) and Finny's Fall, The Devon School
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Now that Devon's first Summer Session has ended and fall has arrived (along with Phineas's own "fall"), the school which had been largely "leaderless" (and thus open to Phineas's whims, because the few faculty members who remained over the summer were lenient to him and students followed his example) has returned to its typical, hierarchical order. Students such as Brinker Hadley return to their usual positions of power, which Gene analogizes to martial positions of command. Here, Phineas is gone, and the carefree atmosphere which he fostered has left with him, replaced by the realities of growing up and the looming threat of World War II.

Chapter 7 Quotes
"In the same way the war, beginning almost humorously with announcements about [no more] maids and days spent at apple-picking, commenced its invasion of the school."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Devon School
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
With this description of the way that World War II presented itself at Devon, Gene alludes to the emotional complications that pervade the novel. Close friendships are rife with guilt and malicious intentions; violent wars are painted over by humor. Although schoolboys should be interacting with playful, easy friendships, at Devon the intrinsic rivalry seems to make the sentiments of war exist at home. Likewise, the separation between New England and the battlefields of World War II allows the war to become a mere diversion from the violence between the school boys, an "invasion" which lacks the emotional connotations that an invasion, particularly one associated with such violence, should by definition have.
Chapter 13 Quotes
"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."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Phineas ("Finny")
Related Symbols: The Devon School
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

As the novel comes to a close, Gene cements the way this narrative connects petty schoolboy jealousies with the antagonisms of war: it treats them as the same phenomenon, the same manifestation of intrinsic human failings. Soldiers who have their fear and hatred translated into death and destruction are merely schoolboys who have become a few years older, and have been given deadlier weapons and a vague cause to kill and die for. Gene also finally defines Phineas here, after he has refused to define his friendship throughout the novel (most noticeably when Phineas calls him his "best pal" by the beach). Phineas was the "enemy" to Gene -- as other soldiers are the "enemy" at war. Phineas is the only being truly separate from intrinsic human selfishness -- a selfishness Gene attributes to himself and all others.

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