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The Horrors of War
“I’m almost glad this war came along. It is like a test, isn’t it, and only the things and people who’ve been evolving in the right way survive.” Lepper Leppellier said this extraordinary quote in chapter nine. My interpretation of Lepper’s quote was, the war had forced the men to abide by the rule of, “survival of the fittest.” From the perspective of the war, Lepper implied that you need to be prepared mentally and physically for war; you also need to adapt to changes and mature to survive. People and societies change in times of war. Some people, including Lepper, become manic-depressive and may possibly go insane. Others resort to suicide. However, war may make others feel important and patriotic. Gene, Lepper, and Finny all went through changes and had their own physical and emotional development.
Lepper was not ready to enlist in the army. He enlisted in the service for the wrong reasons. Lepper enlisted thinking that he would travel and ski and he was not prepared for the hardships of war itself. I think that Lepper went crazy because he wasn’t mentally ready for warfare and, internally he could not comprehend all the dreadful facts of war. Lepper needed to mature and grow as an individual before considering enlisting in the service. He didn’t realize the responsibility and commitment of being a solider.
Finny denied the war to himself and everyone else around him. Finny could not participate or help in the war effort, which made him feel helpless and useless. Finny didn’t like this feeling, so he denied that there was a war going on at all. Finny told Gene his theory about how the war was made up by fat, old, men. Finny realized that the injury to his leg was not going to be temporary but permanent in many ways. This injury prevented him from enlisting in the army. Finny was in denial about the war all the way up to the point in the novel when he saw that Lepper really had gone crazy. Finny believed that there was really a war from that point on because his theory was; it takes a war to make a man crazy.
Gene had many aspects of the war to deal with in addition to his emotional stress. Gene had a difficult time dealing with Finny’s denial of the war and Lepper’s insanity from the war. Finny and Lepper both made a great impact on how Gene emotionally felt and viewed the war. Gene always listened and followed Finny. When Finny told Gene his imaginary story of the war not existing, Gene didn’t know what to think. The more Finny told Gene that there wasn’t a war, the more Gene believed him. Then there was Lepper who had enlisted in the war and “escaped” because he had gone crazy. The more stories and thoughts that Lepper shared with Gene, the more that Gene became afraid of the war and realized that he wasn’t ready to enlist. Like Lepper, Gene also had to grow mentally before he was ready for the service. He decided that he wasn’t going to enlist but instead wait to be drafted. Gene’s character in the novel was an idealist, and he was fighting with himself and his own feelings about the war.
All of the characters in this novel had different ideas, personalities, and situations having to do with the war, not that any individual can ever be prepared for war. No character in the novel was mentally stable or ready for war. War was not a pleasant time at Devon school, thinking about what lied, ahead was probably the greatest challenge of the boys at Devon.
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