This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

The Happy Ending in a Separate Peace, a Novel by John Knowles

downloadDownload printPrint

Remember! This is just a sample.

You can get your custom paper by one of our expert writers.

Get custom essay

121 writers online

The Happy Ending in a Separate Peace, a Novel by John Knowles essay
Download PDF

Although John Knowles novel A Separate Peace seems rather bleak at most points, it does overall end happily because the bad things pave way for the good, the hero completes his quest, and in the death of Phineas (Finny) there is renewal of Life with Gene’s finding of peace.

One of the major ways that the author, John Knowles, shows us that A Separate Peace has a happy ending is by his use of the bad things to pave way for the good. During most of the novel A Separate Peace there are many things that are seen to be bleak, for example Leper’s descent into madness, Gene’s violence towards others, and ultimately the death of the Christ-like Finny. However, all of these dark and sad things pave way towards the happy ending of Gene’s final peace. For example, the madness of Leper which is seen by Gene after Leper gets discharged from the Army for insanity may seem on the outside as something bleak and sad, as it is a good friend lost down the path of mental illness. Although this seems dark it ends up contributing to the happy ending of Gene’s peace because Leper although ill, is called upon as a witness in the trial of Gene and ends up outing Gene’s betrayal to Finny causing a chain of events to be set in motion that end up with Gene realizing that “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”(Knowles 204). The death of Phineas helps cause the same thing as well so even though these things look bleak and sad, they contribute to the overall happy ending of A Separate Peace.

In addition to the previous, John Knowles also uses the archetypes of quest, and hero to show a happy ending in A Separate Peace. Gene, playing the part perfectly of the flawed hero, has a search for identity which leads him to suffer greatly, both of these are major hero characteristics. In fact Gene’s suffering is taken so far that Gene doesn’t even consider Finny dead and at the funeral, he considers a part of himself dead and he states, “I could not escape a feeling that this was my own funeral and you do not cry in that case”(Knowles 194). Because of Gene being the hero, and a good hero must complete a quest, Gene’s quest ends happily after sad things occur. For example, Gene eventually wins his search over identity however it may seem dark because he has killed a part of himself mentally. However, it is not so dark because Gene is mentally free and he doesn’t resent or hold his bitter anger anymore and now has peace. Gene shows the archetypal quest and is the archetypal hero but his quest isn’t as bleak as it would seem because in the end Gene is free and renewed as a human.

Another way that A Separate Peace can be seen with having a happy ending is that the whole book ends with Gene finding his “separate“ peace in the world because his mortal enemy is slain and Gene finally finds his peace because of the renewal of life. Gene’s mortal enemy the one he killed before the war, is his anger which we see three times. Without the death of this we would not be able to see Gene having peace in his life, which is one of the reasons that Finny has to die because they are yin and yang and one must die the other must live. Gene reaches eternal peace and goes back to visit the school he once feared when we see him in the flashback which means that he has made his peace with the things he did and the ways that he acted, a rather happy ending with lots of closure. Gene ends up having a part of Phineas become him even though a part of him died. Instead of seeing the tragic death of Finny we must see that it was more the death of Gene’s hatred in a physical sense and the glorious Finny lives on with Gene replacing the horrible part of Gene which Gene realizes, “Down there I fell into step as well as my nature, Phineas-filled, would allow”(Knowles 204). This conveys that Gene has no longer violent evil emotions but through the rebirth of Finny has now incorporated part of Finny, the good parts, into his being.

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

experts 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help you just now

delivery Starting from 3 hours delivery

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

The Happy Ending in A Separate Peace, a Novel by John Knowles. (2018, October 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 8, 2022, from
“The Happy Ending in A Separate Peace, a Novel by John Knowles.” GradesFixer, 18 Oct. 2018,
The Happy Ending in A Separate Peace, a Novel by John Knowles. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Aug. 2022].
The Happy Ending in A Separate Peace, a Novel by John Knowles [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 18 [cited 2022 Aug 8]. Available from:
copy to clipboard

Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Hi there!

    Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

    Check it out!
    Don't use plagiarized sources. Get your custom essay. Get custom paper

    Haven't found the right essay?

    Get an expert to write you the one you need!


    Professional writers and researchers


    Sources and citation are provided


    3 hour delivery