Understanding A Separate Peace

Overview

Since its publication in 1959, A Separate Peace has acquired the reputation of a minor classic of American literature. This insightful analysis helps young readers relate to the themes of disillusionment, guilt and betrayal, and the fear of failure and intergenerational conflicts experienced by the teenaged characters in the novel. This casebook also situates A Separate Peace against the backdrop of World War II, enabling students to see the connections between the fictional world of the novel and the real World ...

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Overview

Since its publication in 1959, A Separate Peace has acquired the reputation of a minor classic of American literature. This insightful analysis helps young readers relate to the themes of disillusionment, guilt and betrayal, and the fear of failure and intergenerational conflicts experienced by the teenaged characters in the novel. This casebook also situates A Separate Peace against the backdrop of World War II, enabling students to see the connections between the fictional world of the novel and the real World as it existed for young people. Moving well beyond a standard literary treatment, this interdisciplinary casebook provides a collection of historical primary documents drawn from official records, War Department orders, institutional histories, personal memoirs and letters, and poignant interviews.

With commentary by Knowles himself, the casebook takes readers from the prep school setting of the novel to the impact of wartime on American students and their schools. You're in the Army Now explores the difficult transitions through induction and military training. The Combat Zone graphically confronts the realities of war with interviews of two former P.O.W.'s who experienced firsthand the terrors and tragedies of WWII. The volume also examines some of the contemporary issues of the novel including current controversies in athletic programs, gender issues in education, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Teachers and librarians will find helpful suggestions for oral discussion, research projects, and further suggested readings on these important topics.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Bryant has put together an eminently readable and fascinating collection of primary-source materials, interviews, essays, and literary analysis to help readers better understand John Knowles's novel and the context of the time in which it takes place. A variety of topics are explored, including a literary analysis of the novel; prep schools of the period; becoming a soldier in World War II; and actual combat and issues contemporary to our time, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and hazing. The primary-source materials used in the examination of the war will be valuable not only to those studying the novel, but also to those studying the history and social conditions in the U.S. in the early 1940s. Each source is tied to the novel in an introductory paragraph, so the author consistently keeps the focus on the culture of A Separate Peace. Also included are several articles by Knowles and interviews with the author, elucidating his characters, his experiences at a male prep school, and the use of war references throughout the novel. Students studying the book will find this work valuable, but don't discount its use for World War II buffs and those interested in learning more about this period in our history.-Lynn Evarts, Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, WI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

HALLMAN BELL BRYANT is a Professor of English at Clemson University where he teaches American and British Literature of the Victorian period. He is the author of A Separate Peace: The War Within (1990).

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1 A Literary Analysis of A Separate Peace: A Novel of Conflicts 1
1 The Old School Tie: The Preparatory School as Setting of the Novel 23
From: John Knowles, "A Naturally Superior School" (1956) 28
From: John Knowles, "My Separate Peace" (1985) 33
From: John Knowles, "Reflections of John Knowles about His Novel" (1972) 36
From: John Knowles, "We Really Did Have a Club" (1995) 39
3 America's Prep Schools in Wartime 43
From: M. R. Williams, "Life at the Academy during World War II" (1942) 49
From: "The Anticipatory Program: Changes Made at Exeter to Meet the Special Circumstances Caused by the Draft" (1943) 53
From: Henry Phillips, "How Exeter Responded to the Coming of World War II: Preparations for the Defense of Exeter" (1943) 55
From: Howard T. Easton, "Exeter in the Forties: A Faculty Perspective" (1972) 58
From: James E. Hitt, It Never Rains after Three O'Clock: A History of the Baylor School, 1893-1968 (1971) 59
From: Acosta Nichols, "War and a New Administration, 1940-1946," Forty Years More: A History of Groton School, 1934-1974 (1976) 62
4 "Gone For a Soldier" 71
From: J. A. Power, "You're in the Army Now" (1940) 81
From: Dale Kramer, "What It's Like in the Army" (1943) 84
From: War Department Pamphlet #20-13 (1944) 93
From: "Letter from Private Thomas Brush" (1943) 97
From: P. F. C. Lin Zinberg, "Home Is Where ...?" (1943) 103
From: Major Nicholas Michael, "The Psychoneurotic in the Armed Forces" (1946) 108
From: General George Marshall, "Rejections of Inductees for Military Service to Reasons Relating to Psychoneurotics," Neuropsychiatry in World War II (1946) 113
5 The Combat Zone 119
From: "Combat Lessons" (1942) 126
From: Captain William D. Banks, "Target: Ploesti" (1943) 133
From: Interview and Colonel Ben Skardon, U.S. Army, Retired (1999) 140
From: Interview with Joe K. Jones (1999) 154
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