At the end of Chapter 9, the tone changes drastically, from light and carefree to ominous. The bulk of the chapter is devoted to describing the fantasy world created by Finny, or, as Gene calls it, "Finny's vision of peace." Finny, who has been rendered physically unfit to participate in the war effort, pretends that there is, in fact, no war at all going on. With his trademark charisma, he manages to convey his nonchalant, carefree attitude to the others, and organizes a Winter Carnival in which a large number of the boys participate, a haven in a time of dark unrest,
"...liberation (they) had torn from the gray encroachments of 1943, the escape (they) had concocted, this afternoon of momentary, illusory, special and separate peace."
The arrival of the telegram, addressed to Gene and delivered by Brownie Perkins, changes the boisterous atmosphere abruptly, as Finny reads it and his face passes "through all the gradations between uproariousness and shock." The missive is from Leper Lepellier, who has enlisted in the armed forces, and it says that he has "escaped and need(s) help," and that his "safety depends on (Gene) coming at once," to an address that he dare not risk exposing.