A Seperate Peice Essay Research Paper Gene — страница 3

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never returns to his visit to the school in 1958, but it does flash ahead at some points to offer brief scenes from his life after graduation that relate somehow to his life at school, which is told chronologically. During the adult scene, Gene hints at major points in the plot, most notably “a death by violence”; this catches the reader’s attention and leaves him to wonder just who will be killed and how it relates to the tree Gene describes so ominously. Another important point Gene describes is the terrible fear in which he lived his life at Devon. Even as he hints at these plot points, however, he emphasizes the degree to which his view of them has changed, how he has grown personally and how the world around him has changed. He stresses the importance of perception in

influencing one’s thoughts and feelings, how his memory has exaggerated the tree’s size and appearance because of what it meant to him, and how the giants of his childhood have shrunken relatively as he has grown. He quotes a proverb in French, “the more things remain the same, the more they change”; this is an important theme in this chapter and offers a way of looking at the rest of the book. Gene attaches great importance to places as reflections of the psychological impact of some event or character associated with them, and his descriptions of settings seem to convey subtle information about the plot and characters as well as his own inner life throughout the book. Perhaps this is why the narrative opens with Gene’s return to places that hold such dear meaning for

him, places of profound fear and uncontrollable joy. Seeing these places again with a new perspective affects him deeply, and he describes himself as changed and grateful for the experience after going out to see the tree. Gene’s discussion of Devon’s architecture is especially significant to this theme. He describes it as representing the “contentious harmony” of the school as a whole (meaning its social as well as physical aspects), and admires it for its slow growth into harmony with the past, a feat he wishes to achieve himself. The symbolic aspect of the setting of the school (and all other settings) is extremely personal for Gene. He says, for instance, that he feels as if the school did not really exist except when he was there; its meaning for him stems from his

own experiences there, so on one level, it really did not exist except in his presence. The marble stairs in the First Academy Building hold a wealth of meaning for him, which he only discovers as he contemplates them during his lonely tour of the campus. He concludes from the shallowness of the depressions worn in them after decades of use that they must be especially hard, a fact he now realizes is crucial to an understanding of his early experiences. The hardness of the stairs represents an important abstract concept, perhaps the durability of the school itself, and offers insight into a more concrete element of the plot, as the stairs will play an important role in the story’s climax. In the flashback section of this chapter, Knowles describes the two main characters and

their friendship. Finny is established as a charismatic daredevil with a talent for manipulating others (although it is unclear how consciously contrived this manipulation is) and a need to live by his own rules. Gene is a thoughtful introvert temporarily experimenting with sarcasm, which he later concludes is a sign of a weak personality. They bond with each other in their dangerous act, but Finny is clearly the dominant partner in their friendship, and Gene already shows slight hints of resenting this. Also important to this section is the influence of World War II and its impact on the boys’ lives. The class ahead prepares for going off to war, and Finny expresses at several points a wish to be patriotic and soldierly. Mr. Prud’homme, a substitute master for the Summer

Session, comes by the next morning to discipline Gene and Finny for missing dinner, but he is soon won over by Finny’s gregarious conversation. Finny decides to wear a bright pink shirt as an emblem of celebration of the first Allied bombing of Central Europe. Gene envies him slightly for getting away with wearing this shirt (which he says makes him look like a fairy) and virtually anything else he wants to do. Mr. Patch-Withers, the substitute headmaster, holds tea that afternoon. As he discusses the bombing with Finny, his wife notices Finny is wearing the school tie as a belt. Gene waits expectantly to see him get in trouble, but Finny manages to talk his way out of it and accomplishes the impossible feat of making the stern Mr. Patch-Winters laugh. Finny and Gene leave the