A Separate Peace is a book to be treasured. The story lingers long after it is complete. I first read this book nearly 30 years ago and still think about it often (it is on a very short list of such books). A Separate Peace is a painfully honest examination of the conflict between love and jealousy. In the story of Gene and Phineas we see two young men, quite opposite of each other, form a close bond and friendship. Yet, underneath, for Gene at least, lies the embers of inferiority toward his friend. These feelings simmer over time and emerge in a fateful flash. Gone as quickly as they surfaced, but leaving behind a moment that will be regretted for a lifetime.
This is the primary lesson, for me, gathered in reading this book. We have moments on this earth – millions of moments strung together in what seems an endless stream (until we begin nearing the end). We fail, when we are young, to understand how these moments connect and reverberate far into our unseen future. Adults are constantly urging children to think – about what they are doing, the consequences of their actions and how choices effect the future. Yet, despite the pleading of parents, teachers and PSA’s, children often do as they have always done – what they want, in the moment.
This impulsive nature, fueled by and undercurrent of jealousy led Gene to his fateful moment. Without understanding the ramifications, the decision was made.This book is an exercise in reflecting upon our choices – to not listen to a lecture, but to see actions and their consequences play out through two characters we grow to love. It is a powerful examination of the human soul as it struggles to mature in the face of fear and doubt.
Be Strong. Stay Hungry. Walk Tall.