In John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, the world stands on the brink of war, and Phineas and Gene, roommates at a New England boarding school, stand on the brink of adulthood. While the Devon School staff prepares the senior class to fight in World War II, sixteen-year-old Gene and Finny enjoy their friendship and the peace of the Devon summer. Finny is a star athlete, brave, handsome, and self-assured. His best friend Gene, who narrates the story, is a witty and self-admittedly sarcastic academic. Finny’s courage and confidence make Gene want to be a better sportsman, while Gene’s devotion to learning makes Finny want to do better academically. The boys compete good-naturedly, while admiring each other’s natural abilities. Finny and Gene prove inseparable and good for each other, until a twinge of resentment makes Gene give in to a blind impulse, shattering their innocence and lives. A Separate Peace is the quintessential American coming of age novel, profound, personal, and haunting.