Study Guide

Lee in Tomorrow, When the War Began

By John Marsden


Who has one good leg and steals Ellie's heart? That would be Lee. He's more than his injury, though, so let's dig into who Ellie's love interest really is.

The Love Machine

Lee's main roll in the book is as Ellie's love interest and sidekick. In these capacities, he helps Ellie grow up a bit and see things in a new way by pushing her boundaries and her buttons. When Lee mentions that he's noticed Ellie warming up to Homer and tells her he doesn't think that's a good move for her to make, her fangs come out:

"Oh Lee, you're so annoying today! Maybe you shouldn't have tried walking on that leg. I honestly think it's weakened your brain." (14.50)

Yup, it's safe to say Ellie doesn't appreciate Lee's perspective on this one. Instead of writing him off, though, Ellie's irritation quickly passes, and before long she's tell us:

"I wanted to get back to Lee, to see his serious face again, and those brown eyes that charmed me when they were laughing and held me by the heart when they were grave." (16.30) 

There's the romantic interest, for you.

Think, Think, Think

Whereas Homer is a bit of a cut-up, Lee is the opposite of silly—we'd call him serious, though not stony. This makes him a better romantic fit for Ellie, who's prone to really thinking about things. He's a deep and reflective kind of guy, just as she's a deep and reflective kind of gal. Go team.

Perhaps as a byproduct of his thoughtfulness, Lee's often pretty quiet. When he does speak, though, everyone listens—they know he's insightful. Check out his contribution to the conversation in which the Hell gang is trying to figure out what the, er, heck happened while they were camping:

"Remember our conversation that morning in Hell? How Commemoration Day would be the ideal day to do it?" Fi nodded dumbly, tears rolling down her face. We were all crying again now, even Lee, who kept talking as he wept. "Maybe all my mother's stories made me think of it before you guys. […] for now, let's say it's true. Let's say we've been invaded." (6.158)

Lee, of course, is totally correct: They have been invaded. While the others resist putting the pieces together to see this terrifying picture clearly, Lee doesn't shy away from their new reality. He might be quiet, but there's a certain boldness to this willingness to think things through and accept the likely conclusion.

The Whole Truth

Another key quality of Lee's is that he's super honest about his feelings, both with himself and with others. You know who else is honest, right? Yup—Ellie. (If that surprises you, be sure to swing by her page elsewhere in this section to read up on our leading lady.) A great example of this honesty in action is when Lee calls Ellie out on ignoring him after the spend a little quality time together in the haystack. He's not one to hide his feelings, even if expressing them leads to an awkward conversation. Go, Lee, go.