The war, and the probability that the boys will have to fight in it, looms large in A Separate Peace. Yet at first, as with almost everything else in his life, Phineas is not haunted or frightened by the possibility that he might lose his life fighting. Nor is he caught up in any patriotic fervor. He even claims that "there is no war," and that the whole thing was created by a group of "fat old men" in an effort to keep the youth of the world occupied. On the surface, this an expression of Finny's blithe attitude toward life, but it also has an undertone of bitterness, in part because his injury will not allow him to participate in the war too. Later in the book, he claims to be convinced that the war is real, because he has seen what it did to Leper Lepellier, who enlists in the war and returns traumatized.