Monday, May 6, 2013

Escape: Gene vs. Leper

The word "escape" is defined as: to slip away from pursuit or peril; avoid capture, punishment,or any threatened evil (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/escape?s=t). For Leper, this could mean an escape from war and from his sane mind, but for Gene, he has unwillingly left what he used to know as normal. 
At the end of chapter 9, a telegram was sent to Gene. The telegram read: "I have escaped and need help... My safety depends on you coming at once. Your best friend, Leper." (137) Naturally, Gene went to find Leper at his winter home, where he had safely "escaped" from war and is living with his mother. When Gene arrives and stays at the home for a while, he realizes that the war has completely changed Leper, and he is no longer an innocent boy with a sane mind who played with snails, he is a psychotic man who doesn't know what to do with himself. ""I escaped!" the words surging out in a voice and intensity that was not Leper's." (143)
Gene so far does not understand what all of this means, whether it is Leper going insane from the war or changing from a boy to a man and not knowing how to deal with it. Gene feels like he has "escaped" from what he used to know as normal, like Joking with Finny and having fun at Devon.

Is Leper ever going to go back to normal?
Does Leper mean it when he says that Gene pushed Finny out of the tree or has he just gone psycho?

10 comments:

  1. In this chapter, Gene sees the real side of what war has done to Leper. At school, the other kids made Leper's enlistment as a joke, turned him into a war hero. They did this so that the war wouldn't seem as scary to them, as intimidating. In a way, they were creating their own separate peace, a separate reality where the war doesn't faze them. Gene also had different thoughts about the war. He thought that enlisting was "to slam the door impulsively on the past, to shed everything down to my last bit of clothing, to break the pattern of my life" (92). Due to Gene's own confusion about his identity, he imagines the war to be a place where he could start anew, run away from his problems and confusion and be given a new identity. This idea, however, he makes up in his head and is not true. Leper's telegram and meeting with Gene breaks both the boys and Gene's separate peaces, bringing reality back to Devon. As the Devon boys attempted to "escape" reality, they weren't able to run away for ever, as Finny would have hoped.

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  2. When Leper enlisted, nobody took him seriously. They turned him into a superhero who saved everyone at every battle in the war. They did this because they didn't want the war to be real and affect their lives. Leper never lived a structured life, he never went with the other students at Devon, he would go and be in the woods and see nature. Because of his unstructured lifestyle, I think the army life took a toll on him bigger than it does with other people. Leper wasn't used to having to do what other people do, or follow commands, and when he stepped into the heavily structured army life, where there is a time to do everything, he couldn't handle it. Eventually, I think that Leper will go back to normal, assuming the army doesn't look for him and try to bring them back. He just needs time to get to normal Leper again.

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  3. During this chapter, Gene is on his way to Leper's house, happy that Leper has left the war and will be back with him and Finny. Once he arrives he realizes that the war has changed Leper a lot. What the letter really meant is that Leper is unhealthy. He has escaped from, as said before, what he thought was normal. This is shown when he calls Gene a savage. He now believes that Gene and Finny really don't like him. He thinks that they think he is crazy like the people in the army do. Leper probably will go back to normal but it's going to take some time. There is a lot of reality in what Leper is saying when he tells Gene that he pushed Finny out of the tree. He is going crazy and just wouldn't of even thought about saying it before but probably thought it. Now that he's kind of losing it he comes right out and says it to Gene. Then Gene can use the excuse that Leper is crazy and doesn't know what he's talking about to so that he can once again hide the truth of what happened in the tree that day.

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  4. Before Leper enlisted, he wasn't a well-known person in the Devon community, and those who did know him saw him as a quiet, shy, guy who kept to himself more than usual. When Leper enlisted, it took everyone by surprise, not just because Leper, the odd, less 'manly' student at Devon was the first to enlist, but also because it was a wake-up call. The whole semester, everyone seemed to push the idea of war aside, not wanting to believe it's reality. This became clear when the boys create stories about Leper and how he is the 'hero' of the war. They were not exposed to the idea of war, and when they were, it took them by so much surprise that they had to cover it up with some sort of joke to tone down reality. One of the plans to cover this up was the Winter Carnival, however, it was interrupted by Leper's telegram, stating that he has 'escaped.' Gene goes to visit Leper following the message, and is shocked at Leper's behavior. The war changed Leper greatly, and he is not sure of how to handle it. Gene doesn't realize why Leper is acting strange, but when he suddenly accuses Gene of pushing Finny out of the tree, that sensitivity that we saw earlier in the book is aroused, and Gene acts out. He thought that he could "escape" from his problems, just like how Leper thought he could escape from war, but he is now realizing that you can't just try and cover up a problem or situation with another problem, because somehow that problem will come up again.

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  5. Leper is one of the only kids at Devon who has experienced the horrors of the real world. Everyone else was too scared to commit to enlisting into the army, but Leper was optimistic and wanted to be part of the thrills of the ski team in the army. When he later realizes that the army is not at all what it was said to be, he writes to Gene telling him to save him and signs it his best friend. Gene and Leper were never considered best friends at Devon which shows Leper’s lack of friends. Gene travels for days to find Leper and when he does Leper is not what he remembered. The war had scared him and made him change. He starts talking about how horrible the war was and implies that Gene is too naive to get it. Leper sees how Gene is looking at him and is judging him. He wants Gene to be able to relate to him. In order for Leper not to look so crazy, Leper he brings up Gene pushing Finny out of the tree in hopes of him going crazy as well. Leper is still the same person he was before, he has just experienced new things that have scarred him, and even though he may be able to get help, I don’t think there is any way that Leper will be able to forget what he saw and go back to his innocent life at Devon.

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  6. Throughout the book, Leper's character has been shown as small, quiet and shy. Hearing that he had enlisted shocked anyone close to him. This made the war seem even more unreal to Finny and the boys because someone like Leper would never be expected to enlist. Getting a telegram out of no where saying that Leper escaped made the situation worse. As Gene traveled to Leper's house, he tried to image what Leper has escaped from. Gene said that there is no "escaping" the army so it had to be spies or another threat. Arriving there, he finds that Leper had in fact escaped from the army because of the fear of discharge. Being discharged for insanity would ruin his life in the future. When Gene talks to Leper, he notices that Leper had changed, something had clicked in his mind changing his personality. Gene eventually realizes that maybe Leper is actually insane and needs serious help. His hallucinations at the army base and his temper all suggest that he needs help. When they talk, Leper's anger leads to him telling Gene that he knew about what had happened to Finny, using it as both a threat and leverage. Where this puts the future of the information is still unknown. If Leper does start to talk about what Gene did, both their lives would be ruined.

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  7. Leper has lost his teenage innocence and has finally experienced like Ellie says, the horrors of the real word and what war is like. It is a terrifying thing and now that he has actually experienced it he has been scarred. Once one has been to war and experienced something so terrifying and what the real word is like it is hard to go back. Devon is very different from the real world and is almost like an escape from the real world. Although after being at Devon for so long the kids find that they want to go into the real world and escape from Devon, like Leper did. Leper has lost his innocence and now that he has I don't think there is a way back for him. Gene on the other hand is still stuck in the Devon world and until he actually experiences war his visions, attitude and morals won't change. When Leper says Gene pushed Finny out of the tree I don't think he meant it. I think it is just a way of teasing him and he doesn't know it's true. Although because Gene got so defensive I think that could be a hint to Leper about the truth.

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  8. Gene and Leper seek to escape themselves. The damage inflicted upon them is internal, eating at them from the inside out. Although they are influenced by outside occurrences, their own minds torture them long after these events take place. Gene is constantly nagged by his guilty conscience after causing Finny's accident. Although he won't admit it to himself, he is disgusted and shocked by his actions. After watching his best friend face the consequences of his own impulsive jealously, Gene is so sick with himself that he wishes to leave the person he was behind. After joining the army, Leper begins to hallucinate, so traumatized by the war that he sees detached limbs everywhere he looks. He is unable to distinguish his horrific nightmares from reality. Even after being discharged from the army, the nightmares continue, driving him mad. "You're thinking I'm not normal, aren't you... you're thinking I'm psycho" (143), Leper accuses Gene, his voice thick with self hatred and bitterness. The pair of them are both terrified of themselves, but strive to achieve an impossible goal. Escaping yourself is like trying to lose your shadow. You can create the illusion of success by stepping into the darkness, but will eventually be forced to face the truth upon contact with light.

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  9. In my opinion, Leper will go back to normal from this insane state of mind he is in right now. He has just got a taste of what war is actually like, and actually how hard it is to even train to be apart of it. I imagine of what Leper would have turned into if he physically went overseas to the real combat zone, and experienced the real war that was going on, not the fantasy. I think that he just got shocked by the reality and that he will soon recover. If Finny or Brinker or any of the other kids were with Gene when Leper blurted out that Gene pushed Finny, then Gene would have been in deep trouble. I think that Leper's current state, doesn't allow him to properly process information via his brain. I think that he was just shouting out random things. Where Leper is mentally now, if he were to go back to Devon, Gene would view it as trouble in the making, due to his current state. Priopr to his enlistment, Leper was a boy who just minded his own business and went about his day. He used Devon in a way to shelter himself from the real world, and going to the Ski troop camp, he has just stepped out into the cruel, harsh world that he never could have imagined.

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  10. When the book starts off in the summer session, Gene is just a kid who seems normal. As the boom develops we see how Gene changes slowly by big moments in his life like Finny and his broken leg. This moment is a big changing moment for Gene. When Gene meets Leper at his house, Gene realizes that the war is real, or that the war is really a cruel place and not the casual place that it is said to be. What Gene realizes is that war is cruel and he is shocked by this. Ever from the beginning of the book, Leper has been not been thought of as the traits needed for a soldier, so it really shocks everybody at Devon when he enlists. This is also a changing moment for Leper because this is when he starts to break out of his shell and "become a man". I agree with everybody else that John Knowles is trying to show that he has not only escaped from war, but he has a escaped from his old life, and is now an almost completely new person

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