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A Separate Peace by John Knowles – how to create a unique thesis

A Separate Peace is a novel by John Knowles that is told in flashback narrative style. The only source of information for the entire piece is the narrator, Gene Forrester. As a complex read that is often featured in studies for all different levels of education, it is a great work to read, review, and base an essay off of.

Some ideas for thesis topics surrounding the book are below.

Thesis Topics to Consider – A Separate Peace by John Knowles

  • The Unreliable Narrator: This is a common theme in much of the narrative literature available. For narrative stories where the reader is relying on one person to tell them a complete story, there are many issues that can arise about the actual telling of the story. In this case, the narrator, Gene, becomes a questionable source of information as the reader becomes aware of his unique motives. While the narrator may not be intentional about misrepresenting information, it is still a possibility that is up for interpretation by the reader.
  • Character Codependency: Another common thread in literature is the co-dependent relationship that characters have with one another. In this case, Gene and Finny, have a relationship that could be discussed in detail. A relationship based on control and esteem, there are many instances within the book that can be discussed – all focusing on the shifts in their relationship over time.
  • Merging Identities: Along with character codependency comes character shifts when one character is trying to merge their identity with another. Gene does this in a number of ways in relation to Finny. Wearing his friend’s clothes and constantly comparing himself to the friend he elevates as superior is a proper discussion topic.
  • Symbolism: The most visually symbolic traits of the book is World War II highlighted at a thematic level. The symbolism the War provides to the book (and even the title) provides much discussion material. It also clashes directly with the peacetime events that are narrated differently.

After reading the novel, take time reviewing the book for themes and discussion topics that speak most to you. While you don’t need to review the book completely, you should note which events took place in which chapter – and their relevance.

Once you have a complete list of the trends and characters that most compelled you to keep reading, consider your options. Those themes and discussions that keep recurring throughout the book are likely the ones you will find are most easy to write about.