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.
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
Chapter 15: What the Questions Were
Chapter 19: What Was Found
Chapter 23: Where They Looked
...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)
...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)
...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)
Chapter 25: Evidence
Chapter 28: How He Went Away
Chapter 30: Evidence