Leper and Brinker are developed as exact opposites in personality and behavior. Brinker is the "hub of the class," involved in every activity and frequently leading them; because of his social skills and ambition, he is the class politician. Leper, however, has no social skills and lives his school life as a loner who hides in his own world. Brinker immerses himself in society; Leper loses himself in nature. Brinker attacks; Leper withdraws. In one essential way, however, Leper and Brinker are very much alike: They are both terrified of going to war and struggle to find a way to ease their fear and deal with what is waiting for them in the world.
By making Brinker and Leper so very different and then revealing their essential similarity, one that is far more significant than their differences, the author is making a strong statement about the scope and power of war. No one can feel secure in the face of it, and there are no strategies to counter its terror; no one can escape its effects.