In the Lake of the Woods

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Anthony “Tony” L. Carbo Character Analysis

John Wade’s campaign manager. A fat, unattractive man, Tony seems utterly amoral throughout much of the novel, often telling John that he should avoid talking about the issues and focus on his “image.” In spite of his apparent cynicism, Tony has a crush on Kathy, and often tells her that he’d willingly lose weight if it meant that he’d have “a shot” with her. Kathy suggests that Tony isn’t as cynical as he seems, and puts up an appearance of cynicism to disguise his true idealism.

Anthony “Tony” L. Carbo Quotes in In the Lake of the Woods

The In the Lake of the Woods quotes below are all either spoken by Anthony “Tony” L. Carbo or refer to Anthony “Tony” L. Carbo. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of In the Lake of the Woods published in 1995.
Chapter 2 Quotes

He didn’t talk much. Even his wife I don’t think she knew the first damn thing about him … well, about any of it. The man just kept everything buried.

Related Characters: Anthony “Tony” L. Carbo (speaker), John Herman Wade
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

The novel alternates between chapters narrated from single characters' perspective and chapters like this one, which consist of pieces of "evidence" culled from interviews with the characters, other books, and real-life historical events. Here, Anthony Carbo, John Wade's campaign manager, describes John's personality: John was an extremely private man, to the point where even John's own wife didn't feel that she knew who he was. And because it's still early in the novel, we the readers don't know any more about John than Anthony does.

The quotation establishes the true "mystery" of In the Lake of the Woods. The novel appears to be about the search to solve the mystery of Kathleen Wade, who disappears suddenly during her time at Lake of the Woods; however the real mystery of the book is about John himself: what secrets, if any, he was hiding from his wife, and what, exactly, he kept "buried."

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Chapter 6 Quotes

You know, I think politics and magic were almost the same thing for him. Transformations—that’s part of it—trying to change things. When you think about it, magicians and politicians are basically control freaks.

Related Characters: Anthony “Tony” L. Carbo (speaker), John Herman Wade
Related Symbols: Magic
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

In another "Evidence" chapter, Tony Carbo offers an interesting comparison between politicians and magicians. While there are lots of good parallels between these two professions (they're both about pleasing an audience, for example), Tony points to a desire for control, which he says is common in both politicians and magicians.

But what does Tony mean when he says "control?" In part, John Wade enjoys politics and magic because it gives him a sense of ownership. From an early age he collects toys and props for magic shows, and later on, when he becomes a career politician, he gets a sense of delicious pleasure from the bills he proposes. We can think of John's enjoyment of props and bills as "hard power"—he enjoys the feeling of possessing something, and being able to manipulate it completely.

Similarly, John also enjoys his sense of control in regards to people. In order to control people, John doesn't exactly try to manipulate them like objects—instead, he wants to wring love and affection from them. Whether as a politician or a magician, he performs in order to receive love, applause, and admiration. We can think of these aspects of John's personality as his penchant for "soft power," a different and perhaps more sympathetic kind of control.

Chapter 22 Quotes

All you could do, he’d said, was open yourself up like a window and wait for fortune to blow in. And then they’d talked about stuck windows. Tony suggested that she unstick herself. So she’d shrugged and said she had tried it once but the unsticking hadn’t gone well.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Kathleen “Kathy” Terese Wade, Anthony “Tony” L. Carbo
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Kathy thinks about some advice Tony has given her recently. Tony knows that Kathy is locked in an unhappy marriage to John Wade. His advice is that Kathy free herself from her own unhappiness: in short, that she "unstick" herself.

It's important to recognize that Tony is referring to Kathy's marital infidelities here: he knows that Kathy has had an affair with another man at some point, and his advice is that Kathy should leave John for good. Of course, Tony is attracted to Kathy, and so his advice is also flirtation: he acts like he wants Kathy to be "free," but really he just wants to date her.

Tony's advice is also meant to counterpoint the difficulty that John and Kathy have with disentangling themselves from each other, and from their respective pasts. John has a long, traumatic past, and he can't just unstick himself, no matter how hard he tries. Similarly, Kathy feels that she has too much emotional baggage with John: as much as she sometimes wants to leave, she's too close to John to do so.

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Anthony “Tony” L. Carbo Character Timeline in In the Lake of the Woods

The timeline below shows where the character Anthony “Tony” L. Carbo appears in In the Lake of the Woods. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Evidence
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...Further pieces of evidence include an iron teakettle and a large boat. A man named Anthony L. Carbo is quoted as saying that “he” kept everything buried, and never said much to anyone,... (full context)
Chapter 4: What He Remembered
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...crosswords and John organizes bills. Feeling “electricity in his blood,” John twice tries to call Tony Carbo, but learns from Tony’s secretary that he’s left for the day. John doesn’t leave... (full context)
Chapter 6: Evidence
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...admits, but it’s “too easy” to say that the war made him who he is. Tony Carbo imagines that magic and politics were one and the same for John. Other sources,... (full context)
Chapter 12: Evidence
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Tony Carbo says that John was a charmer, and Ruth Rasmussen calls him a nice, polite... (full context)
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...he returned from treatment, he claimed that he was better, but his alcoholism never improved. Tony Carbo suggests that all politicians are insecure performers—they go into public life because they want... (full context)
Chapter 16: Evidence
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Tony Carbo says that John handled “it” in his own way, but adds that John was... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Nature of Politics
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In 1976, John announces that he is running for the Minnesota State Senate. He asks Tony Carbo, an overweight, experienced campaign manager, to help him. John assures Tony that he wants... (full context)
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John is in the state senate for six years. Tony runs his campaigns, which are expensive, slick, and successful. John acquires a reputation for being... (full context)
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Several times, Tony asks John if he’s “clean,” and John responds that he is. Tony also asks about... (full context)
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...Polls put him well ahead of his nearest rival, an old-time politician named Ed Durkee. Tony is confident that they’ll win the election easily. In his speeches, John avoids talking about... (full context)
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After John announces his candidacy, he, Kathy, and Tony have dinner. Kathy mentions that John’s campaign seems a little “empty.” When she asks Tony... (full context)
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Tony asks John what issues he’d like to talk about, and John admits that it’s probably... (full context)
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While Kathy is in the bathroom, Tony tells John she’s a “yummy specimen,” and points out that Kathy thinks John is “Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 19: What Was Found
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...local paper, which mentions Kathy on the second page, including quotes from the governor and Tony. Next to the article there’s a photograph of Kathy looking very happy. John says, “Oh,... (full context)
Chapter 20: Evidence
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Tony Carbo says that John repressed his terrible experiences in Vietnam, to the point where John... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Nature of the Spirit
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...John and Kathy return to their hotel and sit, naked, listening to traffic. Later on, Tony stops by and talks with John and Kathy. He tells Kathy that he loves her... (full context)
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Tony tells John that he’ll be working for Ed Durkee, the man who defeated John, from... (full context)
Chapter 22: Hypothesis
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...playing the slots in Las Vegas during a campaign visit she made with John and Tony. She enjoys casinos because there is always a jackpot in the near future: in short,... (full context)
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...then remembers what else happened during her last visit to Las Vegas with John and Tony. She and Tony sat at a blackjack table, where they played for hours. Around midnight,... (full context)
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...to get Kathy to leave the table. Kathy replies that this “doesn’t seem like you.” Tony observes that Kathy has lots of “yous,” but then tells John to forget it; John... (full context)
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After they cash out, Kathy and Tony sit alone at a bar, drinking. Kathy complains to Tony that John has ruined her... (full context)
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Tony and Kathy continue to talk at the bar. Tony points out that John’s career is... (full context)
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Kathy remembers what else happened the night she and Tony got drinks in Las Vegas. Tony told her that she had to think of luck... (full context)
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Tony and Kathy spent more time gambling, and then went up to their hotel rooms. Tony... (full context)
Chapter 25: Evidence
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...It includes invisible ink, a coin trick, and a copy of The Peers Commission Report. Tony Carbo says that John ran out of magic—when the story about his behavior in Vietnam... (full context)
Chapter 30: Evidence
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...Hudson Bay, in Canada, since they are still in love, just like Ruth and Claude. Tony Carbo suggests that John and Kathy ran away together, since they were both excellent at... (full context)