A Separate Peace

Fearful sites

What are the two "fearful sites" the narrator wants to visit upon his return to school?

How does he feel when he sees them?

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The narrator wants to revisit the cold, hard marble stairs in the First Academy Building, which seem to hold some kind of memory for him, and a tree that he and Phineas used to jump off of, bravely. He notices, when he sees the tree, how vast the difference is between youthful memory and adult perception.

The image of how Devon appears to have changed presents the contrast between reality and what exists in the memory, and shows how memory can be tinged by feelings that change how reality is perceived and recalled. This is especially evident when he looks for a tree by the river, that also appears to have a special meaning to him. "It had loomed in my memory as a huge lone spike dominating the riverbank, forbidding as an artillery piece, high as a beanstalk," he says, his similes characterizing the tree as a great, forbidding mass (5). Yet, when he sees it, he finds it "absolutely smaller, shrunken with age," and nothing like the great giant he had remembered. Perhaps the tree had actually shrunk since Gene's time; but this is a more apt example how things can be obscured or emphasized in the memory via emotional factors, and a good introduction of the theme of memory versus reality.