The Lake Of The Woods

1432 Words6 Pages
In the Lake of the Woods is about ghosts, personal and national, and about the impossibility of escaping them. Author Tim O’Brien poured much of his own likeness into protagonist John Wade. Wade grew up in Minnesota and like O’Brien, he served in Vietnam so he could maintain or get more love from his peers and family. Like O’Brien, he likely committed some wartime sins and like O’Brien, he cannot escape the past. However we see a key difference between the two mean as O’Brien confronts his personal demons through writing and admitting publicly his faults, while Wade prefers to suppress the past and at making all disagreeable memories disappear. The pervasive theme of disappearance is perhaps the most important motif of the novel. Wade,…show more content…
This viewpoint manifests and grows to be a deep personal identification for Wade in his adult life. For example in Vietnam, Sorcerer made entire villages vanish with a few magic words into a walkie talkie and heavy explosives; after the graphic depictions of the My Lai slaughter Wade even manages to disappear his name from the official platoon roster. This attitude continues after the war when Sorcerer turns back into John Wade, where in the United States, Wade uses this magical trickery as a politician. He continues his manipulation and ambition until he is on the verge of winning a seat in the United States Senate when memories of the Vietnam secrets he’s buried deep inside his mind surface years later. The discovery and news reports of his participation in the My Lai slaughter ended up being the root cause of his election loss. Through small glimpses O’Brien reveals Wade’s past to the reader. The novel opens in its present timeframe (1986) to John and his wife Kathy, who have retreated to the Lake of the Woods in the northern Minnesota wilderness after the election defeat. They have been in love since college, where John often spied on her, they try to put the past beside them and desperately create new possibilities in the future for them, but a palpable tension and unease run under the easy-going surface of their day to day activities. In
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