A Separate Peace

Gene uses a smilile when he compares the war to a "wave at the seashore". What is Gene saying about the war, Devon, his relationship with Finny, and the future?

Chapters 7-8 in "A Separate Peace"


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Gene is a reflective, very self-conscious, and sensitive person; here there is really a glimpse of how sensitive Gene is, and how much of a lasting effect that events really have on him, especially since his feelings are so keen fifteen years after the fact. Even Gene admits, however, that the peace he is feeling cannot last. In an extended metaphor that he carries throughout a paragraph, he describes the war as a "wave at the seashore," that looked intimidating as it grew larger and came closer to him. But, with Finny by his side, he was able to kept from being swept away, while "throwing others roughly up upon the beach" (101). But there is a great sense of foreboding inherent in the metaphor; where there is one huge wave, there is usually another at least as big to follow it. What that "wave" will be is not yet evident; but Gene is obviously setting the scene for an even bigger shake-up to occur, and building toward the climax of the novel.