The dilemma Brinker Hadley faces in A Separate Peace by John Knowles, parallels what many students at Devon School are experiencing in the harsh wartime. Pride and honor compels all the students to want to enlist into the fearful war. Brinker Hadley proudly declares to everyone that he too will enter the war to show that he is a fearless, powerful, and a superior leader. However, the impact and reality of the war forces Brinker to continuously change his personality, and drastically alter his views toward the war.
Brinker appears to all the students at Devon as an industrious leader for his involvement and prestige in various school clubs. Confidence is a key characteristic Brinker portrays, and he shows this off when he starts writing poetry about the war and telling everyone that he too will become a soldier. In fact, after endless hours of working in the snow with all the other boys, Brinker proclaims, “ I'm giving it up, I'm going to enlist. Tomorrow” (92). By showing his bravery to enter the gruesome war, Brinker inspires many of the students to do the same. Gene even states that, “ I [Gene] felt a thrill when he said it... I had been waiting for a long time for someone to say this so that I could entertain these decisive words myself” (92). All the boys know that they must one day leave the protection of Devon to join the war efforts, and Brinker is convincing them to end their treacherous wait and to act immediately. Brinker's influence shows that he is well looked as a leader and that he is ready to enlist in the war.
As the war and the school year continues, Brinker starts to lose the attention of the rest of the boys. Unlike Brinker, Leper goes to war which makes him more valiant than Brinker because only said he would enlist, but did not. In addition, Gene rejects Brinker's offer to enlist with him even after he agrees. Brinker felt like he “could at least cease to be so multifariously civilian” (121) since he would soon join the war. As a...
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