In chapter 11, Gene returns to Devon after finding out about Leper going AWOL from the army. He discovers that Phineas and most of the senior class are out in the fields engaged in a snowball fight. Gene thinks the following about the situation at hand:
"This gathering had obviously been Finny's work. Who else could have inveigled twenty people to the farthest extremity of the school to throw snowballs at each other? . . . with the easy authority which always came into his manner when he had an idea which was particularly preposterous" (153).
Phineas recruits Gene to his team at first, but then he trades sides in the middle of it so everyone becomes confused. In the chaos, everyone eventually turns on Phineas and he ends up getting pelted by all of their snowballs. He absolutely loves the chaos he creates during sporting activities. This is not unlike the time he made up the game Blitzball. Blitzball is all about one boy running with a heavy ball and getting tackled by everyone else. Everyone is involved during the whole game; there are no teams and Phineas takes charge of the way it is played and ends.
After that, Brinker wants to know about what happened to Leper. Gene says, "Leper's not the little rabbit we used to know anymore" (156). Brinker guesses exactly what happened--about how Leper went crazy and ran away from the military. At first, Brinker is energized by guessing exactly what happened to Leper, but then he fades with sympathy. Brinker says that someone should have known not to allow Leper to enlist because he's not a fighter. With the draft facing all of the boys after graduation, Brinker feels that it might be easier to enlist and choose which section of the military he wants to take part in. Discovering Leper's inability to fight gives him a renewed energy to step up, do his duty, and fight for freedom when his time comes.
Blitzball and the snowball fight have the following similarities:
- Finny created them.
- They end up as an all against one competition.
- They are both a rebellion to the rules.
Brinker isn't shocked that Leper couldn't handle it, but he is shocked by the rebellion of the act that Leper went AWOL (Absent Without Leave). Brinker is always the first to do great things and I think this incident gave him a fresh confidence because he still could be the first from Devon to go be successful at war.