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November 9, 2016
A Canticle for Leibowitz
November 29, 2016

A Separate Peace

Quick Glance



This is the total number of possible incidents in this 196 page book.

*As personal standards vary, please see the breakdown to determine what matters to you.

Author: John Knowles
Key Words: Fiction, Teens

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Book Description:

An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to World War II.

Set at a boys' boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.


We read this version of the book. Get the same one here on Amazon.

Sexual Content

Making Out/Sex - 2 Incidents

A boy, telling a sarcastic story, says he made love with a guy’s sister.

A boy tries to make a joke: “People get problems in living rooms.” “Bedrooms too.” (He then makes a slight crude comment about bathrooms being really functional.)

Miscellaneous - 10 Incidents

A boy takes off his clothes, “stripping down to his underpants.”

Mentions looking at something from the “sexual point of view” and not wanting to think about his parents “sexual lives.”

Mentions a boy shedding clothes to go swimming.

A boy observes of another boy: “His … jacket parted slightly over his healthy rump … and it is that, … I recall as Brinker’s salient characteristic, those healthy … buttocks.”

Mentions a “sexual secret.”

Speaking of a locker room: “It was preeminently the smell of the human body after it had been used to the limit, such a smell as has meaning and poignance for any athlete, just as it has for any lover.”

A description of “virgin slopes” and skiing.

Uses the word “eunuch” in a description.

A man’s advice regarding religious waverings, sexual maladjustments, etc. is to “Give it the old college try.”

“The best that could be said for them physically was that they looked wiry in their startling sets of underwear” (of men in a gym).

Violence - None


Mild Obscenities & Substitutions - 31 Incidents

h*ll, d*mn, d*mned, darn, heck

Anatomical Terms - 6 Incidents

a**, scr*wy, stupid-a**, scr*wed, F--ing (book shows dashes - once), b**b

Scatological Terms - 4 Incidents

cr*p, sh*t

Religious Profanities - 21 Incidents

God, Godd*mn, Oh my God, I swear to God, God's sakes, God d*mn it, Christ, good heavens

Derogatory Terms - 10 Incidents

son-of-a-b*tch, Kraut, Georgia cracker, b*st*rd, Negroes, Japs

Conversation Topics - 10 Incidents

The story is about a boy that gets jealous and pushes another boy out of a tree. The boy becomes a cripple. The entire story deals with this and the shame, the lies, not wanting to believe the truth, living in a delusion, altering/distorting the facts in your memory so that you remember only what you want to etc..

A group of boys form a group and decide to call it “The Suicide Society of the Summer Session.”

Gaming is mentioned: cards, dice, black-jack, poker (some of the boys played at the boarding school).

A number of boys at the boarding school (including the main character) smoke. They all gather in the basement and call it the Butt Room.

The boys go to chapel as part of school but don’t pay attention or believe what is taught.

The main characters drink a couple of times throughout the book, including drinking hard cider at a carnival they put together, where one boy forces another to gulp done a large quantity.

“Always say some prayers at night because it might turn out that there is a God.”

Mentions honky-tonks, shooting galleries and beer gardens. Two minors show false IDs and drink some beer.

The boys speak about drinking and the Prohibition.

Boys gather prizes for a carnival. A few of the prizes are: a dictionary with the “stimulating words marked,” Betty Grable photos, forged draft cards and a women’s lock of hair.

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