In Peace Breaks Out an example of a flat character is Wexford whose character is easily recognizable as a villain, which is the single quality that defines him. Wexford is a power-seeking, arrogant, egotistical, vengeful, scheming liar who seemingly will stop at nothing to fulfill his selfish aims. On the last page of the book, Pete Hallam calls Wexford "An incipient monster" (178), and compares him to the monsters that came to the top in World War II. And, as Pete points out, "those monsters were once adolescents" (178). This characterizes Wexford as someone who will never change. When he gets away with causing the killing of his arch enemy Eric Hockschwender (a foil character) he crows, "Who is the fairest of us all? Who the most powerful...Who Supreme? Who! Wexford, that's who" (172).
Wexford lies to his parents, to school authorities and to other students, all to get what he wants at any cost. What Wexford is, he was, and will be: "a limitlessly ambitious conniver, momentarily trapped in adolescence" (70).
Pete Hallam, the protagonist, is an excellent example of a round character, someone whose character is complex and many-sided. Over the course of the school year at Devon, he undergoes changes which give him greater self-awareness, and a new different outlook on life. He is first seen as a "burned out survivor" of World War II (91), a lost man numbed by war who returns to Devon School as a teacher perhaps hoping to find the familiarity and security he knew as a student there. The very first line of the novel expresses this hope: "The Devon School had endured...as a close-held memory of peacetime" (1).
What he finds is the inevitable change, and a different, perhaps more restless and violent post-war generation. Even more important, he "finds" himself. He carries the burdens of a damaged leg and psyche and a failed marriage, via a Dear John letter (4,10). Through the experiences of one school 8year, combined with ...