The novel, Tomorrow When the War Began was written by author John Marsden and published in 1993, entails the story of a group of teenagers put into a precarious situation. Upon returning from a short camping trip to the nearby mountainous areas of Wirrawee, they discover themselves in a new world. A world overrun by foreign soldiers, a world devoid of the people and things they used to know. A world of war. Throughout the story, the characters are developed, some more than other, as a result of the harsh decisions, environments, and situations they find themselves in. Of the main few characters, one who undergoes the most change is Homer Yannos. 

Introduced as a brash, rebellious, and careless teenager, he seems to not have a care in the world except enjoying himself… at first. Once the severity of their situation is revealed to him, lots of changes occur within him. He begins leading the group as their unofficial leader, making smart and well-thought-out decisions, and begins comforting and caring for others. These changes are further explored by entailing Homer’s reaction to tough situations using characterization. The following information describes Homer’s change, why it happened, and what he did that revealed these developments.

Within the novel’s exposition, Homer is introduced to the story as a rebel within the community. This is before the invasion, so Homer does not really have any concerns, cares, or a responsibility to spare his friends and family. Ellie’s description of Homer is that he is “…wild, outrageous, didn’t care what he did or said or what anyone thought.” He is known for making foolish choices, choices that would often embarrass others, but not someone like Homer, who lacks the self-respect to do so. An example that perfectly portrays Homer’s lack of remorse and respect is his creation of a game called ‘Greek Roulette.’ In the game, “… you’d take it in turns to walk up to a window and head-butt it.” 

This description alone gives an idea of just how immature and careless Homer truly was before the invasion. In addition to this, “Homer always seemed to be in trouble.” whether it be from a round of Greek Roulette that a teacher stumbled upon, or from taking worker’s ladders away while they were on the school’s roof, he was constantly being berated by others, and yet felt no guilt for his actions. 

To add to his often-rash behaviour, Homer generally did not regard people’s emotions as being valuable, resulting in him getting angry and making bad choices. An example of this situation is when “…they (Homer and his mother) had a massive argument, which ended with homer chucking the sprouts at his mum.” This situation was from his youth, but his lack of respect and the emotional value of others is still portrayed in him at the beginning of the book. 

In general, before the invasion, Homer was immature, selfish, and not at all reluctant to do the wrong thing, even at the expense of others’ comfort and wellbeing. He does not think things through and is rash. Later, his change is a surprise to everyone and will be explored further.

Homer’s change from a rash, irresponsible bot, into a tactically thinking, caring and responsible man relies on two main ‘turning points’. One of these points was Homer’s confession to Ellie about having feelings for Fi. Ellie is taken aback, especially with this type of conversation “coming from Homer” because in the past, “…real women, he treated like beanbags.” This helps Homer develop as he finally regards people’s feelings and treats people like they should be treated. 

Furthermore, “…he got embarrassed at admitting even that much” meaning that he liked Fi. In order to impress her, Homer began acting less impulsively and focused on interpreting and understanding people’s feelings, a big change for him. More of his emotions were showing and he was finally capable of feeling empathy, all because his feelings for Fi opened a whole new range of changes in which Homer could explore. 

The second major point of development for Homer, is when the group returns home and realizes the danger and the situation that they have found themselves in. Instantly, Homer begins taking a leadership role. He realized that they needed to “… stay calm or we’ll (the group of teenagers) never get anywhere” and he began planning with intelligence and the group’s best interest. Likewise, he realizes that as a leader, he must make the tough and important choices for the group’s safety, and he does just that when “…Homer made an unpopular decision. ‘I think we should split up.”’ 

He is instantly met with contradictions from the rest of the group, but he stays calm and elaborates, bringing up rational points, and explaining that “’ Five people free and two locked up is a better equivalent than no people free and seven locked up.”’ Everyone else realizes that Homer is correct, and “we were starting to recognize Homer’s leadership.”

Homer’s responsible and leaderlike behavior continues throughout the journal, and by the end, Homer is an entirely new person. He creates the majority of the plans and choices that ultimately save the group’s lives on multiple occasions. Whenever the groups “…voices trailed off, we found ourselves looking at him (Homer)” for ideas and they were beginning to see the ‘new Homer’ and just how much change there had been, emotionally and mentally. One of Homer’s most influential decisions was to retreat “…to Hell. 

That was Homer’s genius, he combined action with thought, and he planned ahead.” This not only gave the group a safe haven to stay in while they plotted and recovered, but it gave them hope and something to focus on to take their attention away from the looming and ominous invasion. Another example of Homer’s obvious role as the leader of the group is when he is formulating his plan for the destruction of the bridge. He quickly and efficiently assigns everyone roles, based on their strengths and weaknesses. 

He follows through with the plan with efficiency and carefully planned moves, which results in the successful explosion and (almost) all of the group being unharmed. This behavior continues until the end of the novel and in extreme contrast to his previously selfish and careless behavior in the exposition, whenever he makes a mistake or takes an unnecessary risk, “… he’s so down on himself.” 

This shows that in addition to becoming more focused and seeing things through, he gradually became more capable of caring for others and letting emotion show. A majority of that change came from his progressive relationship with Fi, and to support that, near the end, Homer says: “Yeah, I love you to Fi.” This coming from Homer, who began with such a high ego, shows his quickly developing emotions and maturity, which is conveyed exceptionally well.

Homer’s development as a character is extreme. He began as a rebellious, rule-breaking teenager who had no interest in other people’s emotions or feelings. He did what he wanted and was complacent about retribution as an effect of his poorly planned actions. This side of Homer was introduced at the beginning, but further into the book, a series of events happen that cause him to begin thinking more about the feelings of others and about everything else in general. 

His love for Fi provided an opportunity for him to learn more about respecting others and treating them well, unlike he did before, and the invasion allowed the ‘hidden leader’ within him to shine and show everyone his true capabilities. By the end of the book, Homer is the unofficial leader of the group and is held responsible for making all the big decisions and supporting the group. 

This is a responsibility that the ‘old Homer’ would never have been trusted with, because as stated in the book, before the invasion “Homer wasn’t even trusted to hand out the books.” Homer’s transformation from the rule-breaking, class clown into the leader of the group, making tactical plans, and resisting invasion is a character development that surprised all the characters but was for the better and resulted in many lifesaving decisions and plans.

Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began: Summary and Analysis," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2022, https://schoolworkhelper.net/john-marsdens-tomorrow-when-the-war-began-summary-and-analysis/.

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