A Separate Peace

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. Furthermore, the fact that joining the military destabilizes Leper so thoroughly is what finally forces both Finny and Gene to admit the overwhelming reality of the war, suddenly sensing its proximity and severity by registering its profound effect on their otherwise mild-mannered friend. When Brinker holds a mock tribunal to determine whether or not Gene intentionally caused Finny’s fall, Leper serves as the key witness, confirming that Gene bounced the tree limb and sent Finny plummeting to the riverbank.

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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of A Separate Peace published in 2003.
Chapter 4 Quotes

He had never been jealous of me for a second. Now I knew that there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us. I was not of the same quality as he.

Related Symbols: The Tree
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other A Separate Peace quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
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.

Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire A Separate Peace LitChart as a printable PDF.
A separate peace.pdf.medium

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 
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
...in spite of himself. They are standing beneath the tree with three other friends: Elwin “Leper” Lepellier, Chet Douglass, and Bobby Zane. The tree itself is the focus of many boys... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
...torpedoed by enemies. In response, Gene throws himself into the water, and when he surfaces, Leper suggests that his jump was even better than Finny’s, though Finny tells him to hold... (full context)
Chapter 2 
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
...they will soon be old enough to enlist or get drafted. In fact, he says, Leper will be eligible to go to war before the end of the upcoming academic year.... (full context)
Chapter 4
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
...him to go to the tree. In a characteristically jovial mood, Finny informs him that Leper will finally be making the jump. Gene slams his book shut and begrudgingly prepares to... (full context)
Chapter 6
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
...home. Across the hall, a popular and well-rounded student named Brinker Hadley has moved into Leper’s old room—a development that would normally please Gene but does little to stir him. Leper,... (full context)
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
...visit Brinker, but stops before he enters, realizing that he doesn’t want to see how Leper’s former room has changed. Instead of saying hello to Brinker, then, he turns around and... (full context)
Chapter 7
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
...volunteers to shovel away the snow, and nearly everyone signs up—everyone, that is, except for Leper, who Gene suspects didn’t listen during the announcement. After all, Gene thinks, Leper is always... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
...his way to shovel the tracks, Gene takes a shortcut through the woods and finds Leper, who is “touring” the area on cross-country skis and looking for a beaver dam. Preoccupied... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
...him, calling him a spy for the enemy. Then, when they reach campus, they spot Leper as he slides slowly by on his skis. Brinker makes a sarcastic remark about him,... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
After listening to Leper, Brinker laments the fact that he’s forced to go to a “school for photographers of... (full context)
Chapter 9
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
...the destruction that supposedly exists beyond the confines of his own experience. In January, though, Leper Lepellier enlists in the military after watching a video that a recruiter from the United... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Within a week, Leper is gone. He is the first boy to enlist, despite the boisterous claims that people... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
...it aloud, his face falls. He hands it to Gene, who sees that it’s from Leper, who has escaped from the military and needs Gene’s help. The telegram instructs Gene to... (full context)
Chapter 10
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
The “Christmas location” is Leper’s home in Vermont, to which Gene takes a train that very night. In retrospect, he... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
Gene hopes that Leper’s use of the word “escape” doesn’t meant that he deserted the military. Hurtling toward Vermont,... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
As Leper tells Gene what happened, he senses that Gene thinks he’s a “psycho.” This word deeply... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Outraged, Gene jumps up, but Leper only laughs hysterically. He reminds Gene that he ruined Finny’s life, and Gene can’t stop... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Gene begs Leper to stop talking, but Leper either won’t or can’t. Unable to bear it any longer,... (full context)
Chapter 11
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
After dinner, Brinker visits Gene and Finny’s room and asks about Leper. Gene is vague, not wanting to talk about what happened to his friend, but Brinker... (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
...his best friend. And this is why, he says, he believes what Gene said about Leper becoming unstable. (full context)
War and Rivalry Theme Icon
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Finny continues to talk about Leper, saying that he now understands once and for all that the war is real. If... (full context)
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Friendship and Honesty Theme Icon
Brinker asks who else was present when Finny fell, and somebody says that Leper was there. Brinker remarks that Leper would know exactly what happened because he was always... (full context)
Change and Growing Up Theme Icon
Optimism, Idealization, and Denial Theme Icon
Brinker asks Leper to identify if the person who fell was Finny, but Leper refuses to do so,... (full context)