Leper Lepellier's Functions as a Minor Character

Topics: Character, Protagonist, War Pages: 4 (1379 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Upon returning to his school fifteen years after graduating, Gene Forrester, recalled his days at the Devon School in a surreal sense. In his own words, "In the deep, tacit way in which feeling becomes stronger than thought, I had always felt that the Devon School came into existence the day I entered it, was vibrantly real while I was a student there, and then blinked out like a candle the day I left." Helping embellish this reality were his friends, including Leper Lepellier, who appeared in only five scenes in A Separate Peace. Elwin "Leper" Lepellier's role as a minor character was vital to the story, although not nearly as visible as Gene's or Finny's. His appearances stole the attention of the reader, altered each character's own perceptions of the war, and forced the main character to act and think in ways he would not have otherwise.

Chapter Ten's journey to Leper's Christmas location is a trip away from Devon both physically and emotionally. Leper steals the scene by inviting Gene to his home, proceeding to unsettle the reader to the extent that he cannot concentrate on the other characters. Quiet and subdued, Leper spent much of his time outdoors, sketching snails and trees, photographing beaver dams. He was what Brinker so scornfully called a naturalist. This gentle hobby extracted virtually no interest from the reader, besides a knowledge of Leper's eccentric and lonely personality. Because he predictably behaved this way, reading the few tortured pages of his hallucinations in the army elicits strong emotion and reader interest; Finny and the Devon group of friends were insignificant compared to the horrific images Leper conjured in the reader's mind. Gene felt the same emotions as the reader: "Don't tell me who's got me and who hasn't got me. Who do you think you're talking to? Stick to your snails, Lepellier." Shocked at what his friend has become, Gene mentions his naturalistic manner, hoping to straighten him out. At this point, the...
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