In A Separate Peace, how does Leper's mother get along with Gene?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Gene meets Leper's mother when he goes to Vermont to see Leper at home after receiving his telegram about having "escaped" from the army. She appears for the first time immediately after Gene has kicked Leper's chair, throwing him to the floor:

Quick heels coming down the stairs, and his mother, large, soft, and gentle-looking, quivered at the entrance. "What on earth happened? Elwin!

Realizing that Gene is responsible for her son's being knocked out of his chair, Mrs. Lepellier confronts him angrily: "Did you come here to abuse him?" Gene apologizes, while he and Leper's mother help Leper from the floor. The tenseness of the situation eases when Gene starts to leave, but Leper asks him to stay for lunch.

Mrs. Lepellier's attitude toward Gene warms during lunch, and it becomes apparent that she has forgiven him for his earlier behavior:

Mrs. Lepellier began to be reconciled to me because I liked her cooking. Toward the end of the meal she became able to speak to me directly, in her high but gentle and modulated voice . . . when she offered me a second dessert, I saw she had accepted [my apology]. "He's a good boy underneath," she must have thought, "a terrible temper, no self-control, but he's sorry, and he is a good boy underneath."

Her changed attitude toward Gene is demonstrated after lunch when she suggests that Gene and Leper take a walk together.

 

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