In the Lake of the Woods

In the Lake of the Woods

An old, wealthy, and intelligent man, a longtime donor to the Democratic Party, and husband to the much younger Ruth Rasmussen, Claude Rasmussen is an ambiguous character for much of In the Lake of the Woods. It is Claude who invites John to stay on his property for a few weeks after John loses the primary election, effectively ending his political career. Later, when Kathy disappears, Claude offers John his company and help, but often seems to be withholding outright sympathy. Claude tells John that he can’t say he voted for him, but also can’t say he didn’t vote for him—it’s this kind of ambiguous “support” that characterizes his relationship with John for most of the book. Toward the end, however, Claude reveals that he’s highly sympathetic to John’s experiences as a soldier in Vietnam, and understands that John has been expressing his sadness over Kathy’s disappearance in unusual ways. He leaves John the keys to a boat, allowing him to flee to Canada before John can become bogged down in a police investigation.
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Claude Rasmussen Character Timeline in In the Lake of the Woods

The timeline below shows where the character Claude Rasmussen appears in In the Lake of the Woods. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11: What He Did Next
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
...When he arrives at the cottage, he sees that Kathy isn’t there. He considers calling Claude Rasmussen, but concludes that there’s no need—Kathy will be home soon. (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
As John and Ruth talk, Claude Rasmussen emerges from his room. He is almost 80 years old. He puts on boots... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
John gives Claude the keys to his Buick, and he drives John back to the cottage. John thinks... (full context)
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Back at the cottage, John walks Claude through the rooms. Claude asks where the phone is, and John says that he unplugged... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Claude and John sit and talk—it’s almost 2 am. John pictures Kathy at the bottom of... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
John and Claude continue to talk. Claude asks John if John and Kathy had been fighting; John insists... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Claude calls Ruth, talks to her, and tells John that Ruth has been calling various local... (full context)
Chapter 15: What the Questions Were
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...Texaco station. At 9am on September 20, Lux and Pearson drives to John’s cottage, and Claude Rasmussen shows them inside. He and Ruth have been staying with John. John is lying... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...John one more question before he and Vinny leave: why did John unplug his phone? (Claude mentioned this fact to Lux, Lux says.) John claims that he turned off the phone... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
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After Vinny and Lux leave, John hears Claude and Ruth in the kitchen, making breakfast. John asks Claude why he mentioned that John... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...John wakes up, it’s almost 6 pm. He goes out into the living room, where Claude is sitting playing solitaire. Claude tells him that Lux checked in and said that he’d... (full context)
Chapter 19: What Was Found
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Pat and John walk back to the cottage, where Ruth and Claude are waiting. John introduces Pat to both of them, and then calls Lux. Lux tells... (full context)
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John tells Claude that he wants a boat tomorrow, so that he can explore the lake and look... (full context)
Chapter 23: Where They Looked
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It is 6:30 am on September 22. Claude, Pat, and John are pushing Claude’s large Chris-Craft boat into Lake of the Woods so... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Claude, Pat, and John board Claude’s boat and begin their search. Claude says that their journey... (full context)
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Claude, Pat, and John circle around the islands. There is mist, making it difficult to see... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...old man with the hoe, PFC Weatherby, singing Sinatra with Kathy, etc. As he thinks, Claude calls his name and calls him Senator: John looks like he’s half-asleep. Claude says that... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
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It is twilight, and Pat, John, and Claude tie up Claude’s boat near the Angle Inlet boatyard. They have been searching for Kathy... (full context)
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As Pat, John, and Claude walk toward the fire, John sees that the men sitting there are Vincent and Lux.... (full context)
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Everyone gathers around the fire: John, Pat, Claude, Vincent, Lux, and at least six other people. Lux introduces everyone to these new men,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
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...his fascination with magic and mirrors, etc. John drifts deep into thought. Some time later, Claude taps John, and John notices that almost everyone is gone, including Vincent. He says to... (full context)
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The next day, John, Pat, and Claude go out on the lake to look for Kathy, and they continue looking for the... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John asks Claude about obtaining a second boat, so that John can look for Kathy on his own... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
...Lake of the Woods, and John spends the morning shoveling snow in the driveway outside Claude’s house. He thinks about magic, and contemplates a “last nifty illusion,” a piece of “casual... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
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...that there are other places the police have to look. Lux asks to speak to Claude; John passes Claude the phone and fixes himself a drink, noticing that Pat is quietly... (full context)
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After speaking to Lux, Claude explains to John that the police want to look around John’s cottage, on the chance... (full context)
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Claude suggests that John hasn’t been crying for Kathy because there’s no use crying. Claude also... (full context)
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The next day, John, Claude, and Pat go out once again on the boat to look for Kathy. Pat refuses... (full context)
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...wakes up, it’s a little before dawn. On the table, he’s unsurprised to see that Claude has left the key to his boat, along with an envelope—John takes both. He brings... (full context)
Chapter 25: Evidence
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Ruth Rasmussen insists that John didn’t kill Kathy, because he loved her—just like Claude loves Ruth. Lux insists that he doesn’t make guesses. Colonel William V. Wilson says that... (full context)
Chapter 28: How He Went Away
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
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It is 7 am and John is riding in Claude’s boat, the day after Claude told him about Lux’s plan to search the cottage grounds.... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
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...land and makes a small fire, where he eats a sandwich and reads the note Claude left him in the envelope. Claude writes that he doesn’t blame John for anything he’s... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...of the day, John turns on the radio in the boat and speaks into it. Claude’s voice answers. Claude says that Lux and Vincent are monitoring the radio, and possibly listening... (full context)
Chapter 30: Evidence
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
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Ruth notes that Claude died shortly after John’s disappearance, and that he and John developed a close trust for... (full context)
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...in 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... (full context)