In the novel A Separate Peace, why is it ironic that the Carnival ends with the arrival of Leper's telegram annoucing his escape?
The Winter Carnival is Finny's brainchild, the embodiment of his insistence that the War is not real. Because of his injury, Finny knows he will not be able to participate in the War, the defining event of his time, and so he creates an alternate reality, one which denies the existence of the War. Because of his charismatic nature, the other boys at Devon are temporarily convinced to share Finny's version of reality with him. Caught up in his sponanteous and madcap planning of the Winter Carnival, they for a brief moment experience the "separate peace" he has engineered. The arrival of Leper's telegram brings the festivities to an abrupt end; it is ironic because the missive, telling of Leper's "escape" from the military, so clearly shows the disconnect between cold reality and Finny's version of the truth. Although Finny, and, for awhile, the other boys, might have believed that they could enjoy a peaceful world of their own making, the fact of the War will not be denied, and puts an immediate stop to their endeavor, stating unequivocably that the War in all its pervasiveness is real, and that there is no escaping it.