Discuss an example of the "Loss Of Innocence" theme in John Knowles's A Separate Peace.

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The character that comes to mind who felt the deepest loss of innocence is Elwin Lepellier, or Leper as his schoolmates call him. He is the odd one out, the misfit, when compared to the athletic Gene and Phineas; but, he is smart and unique in his own way. He was always confident to be alone exploring nature while the others were playing games. After a military film portrayed the army as fun and adventurous, though, he signed up and was slapped in the face with reality. He left school before graduation to enlist with the army only to end up AWOL (absence without leave) because he couldn't handle the pressure of a soldier's life. Chapter 10 focuses on Gene's visit to Leper after the whole incident traumatizes Leper and leaves him psychologically wanting. Leper "grows up" so much because of the traumatic experience that he dares to tell Gene that he saw him jounce the tree and break Finny's leg the summer before. Had he never entered the army, Leper never would have dared to confront Gene with such an accusation.

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A Separate Peace

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