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A Separate Peace Poem Analysis Essay

A soldier’s suffering holds no refrain from anyone, no matter what title or identity they have. In both the worlds of soldiers in those in the poem entitled “losses” by Randall Jarrell and at Devon school in “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles, there are several relationships that they share. Both center around the lives of soldiers and soon to be soldiers during the cruel time of the second World War which was happening in Europe. Jarrell experiments with multiple identity in the combination of several speakers united in one, all wasted even before they could be conceded into the real experience of war.

In the book World War II symbolizes many themes related to each other in the novel, from the arrival of adulthood to the triumph of the Evil over innocent. So both sets of characters have to overcome the harsh reality that is maturity and die trying. If it wasn’t the actual warfare that killed them it was the pressure that destroyed them from the inside. Throughout the poem there are many similarities which can be shared in the book as well and direct quotes explaining their relation.

In “Losses,”Jarrel writes,”It was not dying: everybody died / It was not dying / we had died before. can be related to the book and how Gene had been died when physically he was still alive. The trauma of what happened to Finny had taken a toll on him and made him feel he was dead. “I could not escape a feeling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case. “(Knowles 194). The following eight lines focus on how insignificant a soldier’s death is in relation to a war being won or lost.

The last two lines of the first stanza center around how the war for the young men was fought in school rather than on the actual battlefield. (When we left high school nothing else had died, For us to figure we had died like. )”. The same could be said for Gene and Finny and how they died before their actual battle started because of the heartbreaking events that took place before they could even put on a uniform. This relationship is demonstrated in the book when Gene says “because 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 second paragraph provides more examples of relationships when it explains like infants with new and dangerous toys, the soon to be soldiers still do not confront real warfare; their coincidental birth and death come when they awake “operational” over a potential target. As the human spirit becomes an immoral killing machine, it loses its innocence and acquires a guilty conscience. This can be related in the book when Gene says “They seemed to be having a wonderful time, their uniforms looked new and good; they were clean and energetic; they were going places”(Knowles 97).

This ironic description of soldiers going off to war contradicts the danger they would soon face. No matter how much students at Devon attempted to keep the outside world from invading, they could not. In the poem’s third paragraph the author writes “It was not an accident but a mistake(But an easy one for anyone to make. )”. This can easily be related the the book when Phineas dies due to a simple mistake by Dr. Stanpole which caused the bone marrow to reach his heart and stopping it, instantly killing him.

Dr. Stanpole even talks about this relationship when he says “It was such a simple, clean break. Anyone could have set it”(Knowles 193). The following lines of this paragraph and the lone line after that explain a loss of innocence in the the young soldiers. Somehow all that has happened seems unreal to one who remembers vaguely “the cities we had learned about in school” and their inhabitants, who are merely “the people we have killed and never seen. The innocence of youth is removed from war.

The cities they once learned about within the protective confines of a school are being destroyed by their own hands. Gene explains how Finny couldn’t help in the war because he would have to stray away from his innocence when he says “They’d get you some place at the front and there’d be a lull in the fighting, and the next thing anyone knew you’d be over with the Germans or the Japs, asking if they’d like to field a baseball team against our side” (Knowles 190). The last two lines in the poem relate to the book and how war is a product of ignorance.

And the cities said to me: “And the cities said to me: “Why are you dying? We are satisfied, if you are; but why did I die? “. This quote shows how at the end of it all many of those fighting in the war, killing each other and dying, do not even understand what they are fighting for. In the book gene also realizes this notion when he says “because it seemed clear that wars were not made by generations and their special stupidities, but wars were made instead by something ignorant in the human heart” (Knowles 201).

In conclusion I think both the book and the poem convey the way war can make us ignorant to death, make death almost meaningless, make horrible inhumanity seem ok, and normalize the whole nightmare. The reader is made aware to a progression of losses of life, innocence, identity. To become a statistic of war is to gain one kind of importance, to the state, and to lose at the same time another, that of the free self.

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