A Separate Peace

WHy did Gene achieve a sense of peace even though the war continued??


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"Peace had come back to Devon," Gene says, after Finny had returned. For a while, the struggle between war and peace is temporarily won by peace; and for a short time, Gene also forgets about his ideas of enlisting and enjoys his time at the school with his friend. Gene is still fighting, however, with his feelings about the accident, and about himself; perhaps he wanted to go to war so that he could be distracted by that external battle, and not have to concentrate on his own. 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.