In A Separate Peace by John Knowles, how specifically is Leper affected or impacted by the war?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Elwin Lepellier (Leper) is the misfit of the story, so his personal trials are used to show one of the many experiences that different people go through during a time of war. Traumatic experiences are those that usually create dynamic characters in literature--those who change throughout the story--and Leper fits this bill. Before their senior year of high school, Leper watched others from a distance and did this own thing such as cross-country skiing. Gene describes Leper as "the person who was most often and most emphatically take by surprise, by this and every other shift in our life at Devon" (93). Because of this, Leper is also traumatically affected by the surprise of army life after he enlist. He's affected so much that he has a mental break down! Leper later writes Gene saying, "I have escaped and need help...My safety depends on you coming at once" (137). Chapter ten discusses the meeting between Gene and Leper after the mental breakdown. There, Leper dances around admitting directly to his mental weakness because he was such a brain and strong at Devon before his army experience. Later, Leper admits, "They were going to give me a discharge, a Section Eight discharge. . . A Section Eight discharge is for the nuts in the service, the psychos, the Funny Farm candidates" (144). Consequently, the whold experience changes Leper's outlook on life from one of beauty and potential to one of doom, gloom, and failure.

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