A Separate Peace: Novel Summary: Chapter 10
Gene makes the journey through an unknown countryside on his way to Leper's house. He writes that this traveling would mark the dominant routine of the following year, when he is in the army. We flash forward briefly as Gene tells us that after he enlisted he never saw combat, but just traveled from training camp to training camp in preparation for the invasion of Japan. But because of the bomb, those in Gene's recruiting class never reach the combat that they have been told would kill many of them.
Finally, he reaches Leper's abode in Vermont, full of curiosity and concern as to what has happened. Gene finds Leper much changed: "The careful politeness he had always had was gone" (134). Leper is emotionally on edge and furious at Gene's attempts to make small talk. "You're thinking I'm not normal, aren't you?" he asks Gene, "I can see what you're thinking-I see a
lot I never saw before. You're thinking I'm psycho" (135). Leper tells Gene that he almost received a Section Eight discharge, given to the psychologically afflicted recruits. Gene becomes scared upon realizing what the army has done to Leper, and his fear makes him defensive and angry. But Leper is not daunted or intimidated: "You always were a savage underneath," he tells Gene, "like that time you knocked Finny out of the tree" (137).
Gene is horrified and outraged and knocks Leper, who continues laughing and crying hysterically, out of his chair. Leper's mother enters the room and Gene, embarrassed, apologizes. Surprisingly, Leper begs Gene to stay for lunch and, more surprisingly, Gene, out of a sense of guilt, agrees. Leper is subdued and untalkative during lunch, averting his eyes from his mother. But as the two go walking after lunch, Leper's hysteria returns. After a fit of sobbing, Leper tells Gene of his miserable time in the service and how he began to suffer from hallucinations such as seeing a broom as a severed leg and women's faces on men's bodies. The hallucinations drove him to screaming and as he continues describing his mania, Gene, who is horrified, tells him to shut up: "I don't give a damn! Do you understand that? This has nothing to do with me! Nothing at all! I don't care!" (143). Gene turns away and leaves Leper alone in that snow-covered field, just as he left him three chapters earlier, when Leper was telling him of the beaver dam.