A Separate Peace Timeline

Discussion in 'High School' started by Noggin, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. Noggin

    Noggin Rookie

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    Mar 1, 2008

    Just found out I am going to be using John Knowles A Separate Peace as a lit circle novel starting next month. I love the book so I'm looking forward to it, but I've confused myself on the timeline the book covers when I reread it with teacher eyes to get ready for lesson planning. :help:

    The book starts in the summer session of '42 and the students are described as not quite upper-middlers so that would put them in the summer session between their sophomore and junior years, right?

    But they are the class of '43... Now I'm confused. How are they sophomores in the summer of '42 and they graduate in '43?

    Do they graduate after a second summer session in '43 and the two summer sessions eliminated them actually attending another year? Is that a normal prep school thing if so? Or was it a war thing? That's the only guess I've been able to come up with, but maybe I'm just missing it completely. Keep thinking it should be clear, but I can't seem to figure it out in the text. I have googled like mad and cannot find a timeline for the novel to demystify this for me. Lots of other nice resources, but no timeline.

    Much appreciated if someone knows this and could clue me in!

    Thanks for reading. :D
     
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  3. lmjcatz

    lmjcatz Rookie

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    Mar 2, 2008

    Hello. I remembered being confused about the time frame also when I taught it the first time. I looked back at the first few pages of the novel to see if I could remember what cleared my confusion: On page 7 of my edition (Bantam paperback), Gene says that they were "in shaky transit that summer from...Lower Middlers to ...Upper Middlers. The class above, seniors, draft bait..." I take that to mean that they were in the summer following their sophomore year, and would be what we call juniors the following fall term. Hope that helps.
     
  4. Noggin

    Noggin Rookie

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    Mar 2, 2008

    Thank you so much for responding!

    I am reading that portion exactly the same way- that they'd be juniors in the Fall of '42 after that transitional summer. Then they graduate at some point in '43. So that would be 1.5 years later at most which didn't give them 2 years to finish their junior and senior years if they started as juniors in the Fall of '42. So how does that happen? I was guessing the summer sessions are what sped it up, but can't actually find that in book. Or do I have the graduation date mixed up?

    Thank you so much for your help!
     
  5. lmjcatz

    lmjcatz Rookie

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    Mar 4, 2008

    Oops, I missed that the problem centered around the graduating class date, I guess I didn't do the math! I don't know how that works, but he definitely says he is a member of the class of '43-it does kind of sound like things were accelerated because of the war, so maybe that made summer sessions count. Sorry, I don't have an answer for that.
     
  6. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Mar 5, 2008

    They were sophomores the year before ('41-42) and would have been the class of '44 . . . but they are attending summer school to complete their junior/upper middler year precisely because "there is a war on." They are graduating in three years so that they'll have a high school diploma and can enlist as soon as they turn 18 (since that can be quite early in the school year for some students). The "seniors" that summer were supposed to be the class of '43 but are taking their senior year over summer school for the same reason. This is why those seniors are "draft bait" but Gene and his friends have the rest of the year (with the exception of Leper) to hang on to their youth.

    I agree that this is not clearly spelled out in the book. I just figured this out (I'm sure I read it somewhere) this year after teaching this novel for five years!
     
  7. Noggin

    Noggin Rookie

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    Mar 7, 2008

    Thank you so much! I was beginning to think I couldn't add to 4. :haha:
     

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