How has Leper changed in Chapter 10 of A Separate Peace? What is a Section Eight discharge? Why didn't Leper want it?                               

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Leper is a psychological mess. He had always been different, but he had always been impeccably friendly, courteous, and reserved. When Gene goes to visit him at his house, however, he is bitter, ranting, and rude. His speech is harsh and laced with curse words, and he seems to have no filter for what he says. Gene notes with dismay that "the careful politeness" that had always characterized Leper is gone, and as Leper describes the horrors he sees in his mind, Gene realizes that "none of this could have been said by the Leper of the beaver dam," the Leper of before the enlistment. Leper had been completely unable to handle the realities of military life. His mental state had deteriorated to the point that the army had been about to release him on a Section Eight discharge.

In Leper's words, a Section Eight discharge is "for the nuts in the service, the psychos, the Funny Farm candidates." It is worse than a dishonorable discharge because it marks an individual for life. Leper says that he would not ever be able to get a job if he had taken the Section Eight discharge, and that people would always look upon him with disgust.  In his words, "you're screwed for life, that's what a Section Eight discharge means" (Chapter 10).

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