A Separate Peace

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Elwin "Leper" Lepellier Character Analysis

A member of Gene and Finny's circle of friends at Devon, Leper is an eccentric student who enjoys communing with nature. As the other boys play sports and leap from trees, Leper photographs beaver dams and goes cross-country skiing. His shy, gentle demeanor makes his decision to enlist in the Army all the more shocking. His ensuing breakdown and desertion from military service becomes a key facet of the novel's critique of World War II, which destroyed innocent boys like Leper emotionally and physically.

Elwin "Leper" Lepellier Quotes in A Separate Peace

The A Separate Peace quotes below are all either spoken by Elwin "Leper" Lepellier or refer to Elwin "Leper" Lepellier. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of A Separate Peace published in 2003.
Chapter 6 Quotes
"Across the hall...where Leper Lepellier had dreamed his way through July and August amid sunshine and dust motes and windows through which the ivy had reached tentatively into the room, here Brinker Hadley had established his headquarters. Emissaries were already dropping in to confer with him."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Brinker Hadley, Elwin "Leper" Lepellier
Related Symbols: Fall (Autumn) and Finny's Fall, The Devon School
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Now that Devon's first Summer Session has ended and fall has arrived (along with Phineas's own "fall"), the school which had been largely "leaderless" (and thus open to Phineas's whims, because the few faculty members who remained over the summer were lenient to him and students followed his example) has returned to its typical, hierarchical order. Students such as Brinker Hadley return to their usual positions of power, which Gene analogizes to martial positions of command. Here, Phineas is gone, and the carefree atmosphere which he fostered has left with him, replaced by the realities of growing up and the looming threat of World War II.

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Chapter 10 Quotes
"Fear seized my stomach like a cramp. I didn't care what I said to him now; it was myself I was worried about. For if Leper was psycho it was the army which had done it to him, and I and all of us were on the brink of the army."
Related Characters: Gene Forrester (speaker), Elwin "Leper" Lepellier
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

Gene visits Leper as he had requested in his note, but he does not necessarily respond to Leper's condition with the sympathy we would expect in a friend as visitor. Rather, to Gene, Leper's plight is a larger commentary on societal forces beyond one's control. For Gene, Leper's internal, individual pain is not the concern. Instead, he is more troubled by the amorphous entity of War that has the power to have made Leper so disturbed. Leper's plight makes Gene fear how the war will affect him and his friends, rather than make him feel any special sympathy for Leper as an individual product of the war.

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Elwin "Leper" Lepellier Character Timeline in A Separate Peace

The timeline below shows where the character Elwin "Leper" Lepellier appears in A Separate Peace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...giant tree by a river with his best friend, Phineas ("Finny"), and three friends: Elwin "Leper" Lepellier, Chet Douglass, and Bobby Zane. Finny is about to jump from the tree branch... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Then, one night as Gene is studying, Finny barges in to announce that Leper Lepellier has agreed to jump from the tree. Gene thinks Finny's trying to distract him.... (full context)
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Gene is in shock. As he and Finny walk over to watch Leper jump, Gene realizes Finny never felt any rivalry at all. He also realizes that this... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...so Gene lives alone. But a prominent student on campus named Brinker Hadley has replaced Leper, his neighbor from the summer. (full context)
Chapter 7
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...to help shovel the snow-covered railroad tracks along which troop transport trains ride, Gene meets Leper. Leper is on skis and is "touring" the area looking for a beaver dam. Gene,... (full context)
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They meet Leper on the way home. He reports excitedly that he found the beaver dam. Brinker mocks... (full context)
Chapter 9
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In January, to everyone's shock, Leper Lepellier enlists after watching a video about mountain commandos who travel on skis. Leper says... (full context)
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Leper leaves school one week later. To Brinker and most of the other boys, Leper's participation... (full context)
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But as the carnival is going on, Brownie brings Gene a telegram. It's from Leper, who says he's escaped from the military and needs Gene to come visit him immediately... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Leper's "Christmas location" turns out to mean his home in Vermont. Gene takes a train there.... (full context)
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Gene hopes that when Leper said in his letter that he had escaped he meant that he had escaped from... (full context)
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Leper then starts claiming that "they" have brainwashed Gene. When Gene resists this idea, Leper says... (full context)
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Leper's mother rushes in to investigate the noise. Gene tries to excuse himself, but Leper invites... (full context)
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...the walk, Gene comments that Brinker has changed a great deal, becoming much less cruel. Leper responds that he'd recognize the "bastard" even if he turned into Snow White, but the... (full context)
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Gene begs Leper to stop talking, but Leper either won't or can't. Soon Gene can't bear it any... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Finny and Gene are back in their room when Brinker comes in and asks about Leper. Gene is vague, but Brinker guesses that Leper has gone crazy and expresses his sympathy.... (full context)
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...says he began to believe in the war once he heard that it had made Leper "crazy." He adds that Leper definitely is crazy. He saw him lurking in the bushes... (full context)
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...that they were both on the branch about to do a double jump. Brinker wishes Leper were there to comment on the differences between Gene and Finny's story. Finny admits he... (full context)
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The boys get Leper. Leper calmly says that Gene and Finny were on the branch together when Finny fell.... (full context)
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As the tribunal tries to calm Leper, Finny stands and says he doesn't care what happened. When Brinker protests that they need... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...of confidence and affection as the world tumbled into war around him. Everyone else—Gene, Brinker, Leper, and Quackenbush—fell prey to the war in his own way, even though it was never... (full context)