Leper Lepellier was once a quiet, sensitive, and thoughtful boy. He confirmed to his own rules and had a mind of his own. He would pack up his low self-confidence and together they would quench their thirst for nature. He would look at the world and say “what if?”, and with his wild imagination would think up an answer of his own. But the character trait that brought him to his downfall was his close-mindedness. This is what acted as the little piece of glass which was left in the foot that leads to massive infection and eventual amputation.
Goes to boot camp and finds rules he didn’t want to follow, a new way of life he wasn’t used to, such as: not sleeping in a bed, but everywhere else, not eating in the hall, but everywhere else. Leper always knew he was different, but when he went to boot camp they labeled him as ‘crazy’, and since he was a low self-confident boy, he believed their outlook rather than his own. He threw himself into a world that was scary and dim, exposed to ideas he never contemplated on before and his weak mind grew weaker. A weak chain is an open gate, and this allowed Lepers’ mind to be plagued, with PTSD.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental disease that plagues the mind of the close-minded, and takes over their brain, making it an infection hard to be cured. It is the result of an experience, or a close relation to one with an experience that is overwhelmingly out of normalcy. So overwhelming that the brain cannot process it in a normal way and causes the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with how we accept fear, to become hyperactive. Most people who are diagnosed with PTSD are sensitive, because when the heart and mind are softer, they are susceptible to deeper and sharper cuts. Some of the symptoms are PTSD are as follows: edginess, irritability, easily startled, constantly on guard, poor sleeping habits, and difficulty concentrating.
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PTSD also causes flashbacks, nightmares, and memories. Memories are in intensity when in a situation similar to trauma or something symbolic of trauma. Numbing, feeling emotionally detached, makes the victim think that everyone is out to get him or her and that everything is a threat. PTSD victims are likely to get very scared if someone touches them, or of any loud or sudden movements. Knowles makes it quite obvious, to those looking, that Leper is one of the above-described victims.
For example, “I am at the Christmas location”, this is obviously being extra-cautious, because no one is out for him. The army doesn’t want him back; they were even going to give him the section 8 discharge, which is for “the nuts in service” because he’s a useless psycho freak. Irritability, amongst many other places is found when Gene comes to visit Leper at his house and says something as simple as “your mother is probably pleased” and Leper responds with “What’s she got to be pleased about? I’m pleasing myself.” This is a seemingly over-reaction which stems from irritability.
The night of the trial, Leper was awake. Why? It was eleven o’ clock and Finny, the type to stay up late to have adventures, had to be dragged out of bed, making it quite evident that in those days at boarding school, the boys went to bed early. Leper was awake because he had nightmares and was too scared to go to sleep. His flashbacks and awakening of memories because of things similar to or symbolic of the trauma have a story of their own. It was an awkward day when Gene went to visit Leper and Gene was trying to make it more comfortable by making jokes and the like. One such of these jokes went as follows: “Snow white with Brinker’s face on her. There’s the picture” and then Leper broke into heaving sobs and explained: “one day I couldn’t make out what was happening to the corporals face.
It kept changing into faces I know from somewhere else, and then I began to think he looked like me, and then he…he changed into a woman… and I began to yell so everyone else would see it too” and goes on to say that when someone did finally show up he was holding a broom, but Leper saw right away that it wasn’t a broom, it was a man’s leg. The very mention of something that could have been similar to or symbolic of the horrors he faced caused this outrageous outburst. It’s as clear as the water from Niagara Falls that Leper Lepellier has PTSD. The whole episode with leper makes everything all the more interesting to read, especially for people who like drama. However if you think deeper, Knowles brought this into the book as a warning: it’s easy to become plagued with PTSD so don’t put yourself into the situation. Don’t jump into things unprepared, such as war, like Leper did. Take time, think about it and make sure it is right for you right now, and if something possesses you and you do, watch out for these symptoms in yourself or in your friends.
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