In the Lake of the Woods

In the Lake of the Woods

The protagonist of the novel, John Wade is a politician whose career comes to an abrupt halt after it’s revealed that he was involved in the infamous My Lai massacre of 1968 during his time as a soldier in Vietnam, when he went by the nickname “Sorcerer.” While there is too much contradictory evidence about John to form an adequate description of his character, one of the most common topics mentioned in descriptions of John is his fondness for magic, manipulation, and deception. His love for these things begins with his love for magic tricks as a child and continues through his relationship with Kathy, during which he often followed her, and his career as a politician, when he was able to exercise his love for trickery and deception constantly. John kills two men while he’s a soldier in Vietnam: an old Vietnamese man and another American soldier. John has a difficult relationship with his father, who criticized John for his weight and later killed himself; it’s implied that John feels a deep need to be loved and praised because of his relationship with his father. After his wife, Kathy, disappears during a visit to Lake of the Woods (a rural lake and vacation spot in Minnesota and the Canadian border), John is the target of much suspicion. The narrator leaves it up to us whether to believe that John, haunted by memories of Vietnam, killed his wife and hid her body, or whether he was uninvolved in her disappearance.

John Herman Wade Quotes in In the Lake of the Woods

The In the Lake of the Woods quotes below are all either spoken by John Herman Wade or refer to John Herman Wade. 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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisciLorem ipsum dolor sit amLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit e

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other In the Lake of the Woods quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla paria

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officiaLorem ipsumLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing eli

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 7 Quotes

He talked about leading a good life, doing good things telling the full truth. Politics was manipulation. Like a magic show: invisible wires and secret trapdoors.

Related Characters: John Herman Wade (speaker)
Related Symbols: Magic
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.Lorem ipsuLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur a

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 8 Quotes

He moved to the far end of the living room, steadied himself, and boiled a small spider plant. It wasn’t rage; it was necessity.

Related Characters: John Herman Wade (speaker)
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 10 Quotes

They would live in perfect knowledge, all things visible, all things invisible, no wires or strings, just that large dark world where one plus one would always come to zero.

Related Characters: John Herman Wade (speaker), Kathleen “Kathy” Terese Wade
Related Symbols: One Plus One Equals Zero / The Two Snakes
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 13 Quotes

John Wade would remember Thuan Yen the way chemical nightmares are remembered, impossible combinations, impossible events, and over time the impossibility itself would become the richest and deepest and most profound memory.
This could not have happened. Therefore it did not.

Related Characters: John Herman Wade (speaker)
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, conseLoreLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, coLorLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 19 Quotes

The thing about facts, he decided, was that they came in sizes. You had to try them on for proper fit. A case in point: his own responsibility. Right now he couldn’t help feeling the burn of guilt.

Related Characters: John Herman Wade (speaker)
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 20 Quotes

Double consummation: A way of fooling the audience by making it believe a trick is over before it really is.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), John Herman Wade
Related Symbols: Magic
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 21 Quotes

Thinbill sighed. “I guess that’s the right attitude. Laugh it off. Fuck the spirit world.”

Related Characters: Richard Thinbill (speaker), John Herman Wade
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 23 Quotes

Curiously, as he worked out the details, Wade found himself experiencing a dull new sympathy for his father. This was how it was. You go about your business. You carry the burdens, entomb yourself in silence, conceal demon-history from all others and most times from yourself. Nothing theatrical … and then one day you discover a length of clothesline. You amaze yourself.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), John Herman Wade, Paul Wade
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 29 Quotes

And here in a corner of John Wade’s imagination, where things neither live nor die, Kathy stares up at him from beneath the surface of the silvered lake. Her eyes are brilliant green, her expression alert. Se tries to speak, but can’t. She belongs to the angle. Not quite present, not quite gone, she swims in the blending twilight of in between.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), John Herman Wade, Kathleen “Kathy” Terese Wade
Related Symbols: The Lake
Page Number: 288
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in v

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisLorem ipLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 30 Quotes

It’s odd how the mind erases horror. All the evidence suggests that John Wade was able to perform a masterly forgetting trick for nearly two decades, somehow coping, pushing it all away, and from my own experience, I can understand how he kept things buried.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), John Herman Wade
Related Symbols: Magic
Page Number: 298
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse Lorem Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut l

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim venLorem ipLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, seLLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididuLorLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad m

Get the entire Lake of the Woods LitChart as a printable PDF.
In the lake of the woods.pdf.medium

John Herman Wade Character Timeline in In the Lake of the Woods

The timeline below shows where the character John Herman Wade appears in In the Lake of the Woods. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: How Unhappy They Were
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The other character, John Wade, tries to be positive as Kathy talks about her plans. He closes his eyes... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Kathy asks John about having babies. She suggests that she’s too old, but John assures her that they’ll... (full context)
Chapter 2: Evidence
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
...termination when she was 34. She has a sister, but her next of kin is John Herman Wade. Kathleen worked as a Director of Admissions at the University of Minnesota. A... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Further quotes and reports inform us that John’s father bullied him when John was a child. John loved his father, Eleanor says, which... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
...On August 17, Durkee was leading 60% to 21%. Carbo says that the defeat ended John’s career. Carbo had asked John if he had any secrets. John hadn’t said anything. Carbo... (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
...on a bus somewhere, since she didn’t want to stay married to a “creep” like John. Kathy’s sister, Patricia, says she can’t discuss her sister. A waitress named Myra Shaw remembers... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Nature of Loss
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
John Wade’s father died when John was fourteen years old. After learning of his father’s death,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
For weeks after his father’s death, John buries his head in his pillow and imagines his father being alive. He imagines the... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
While some of the stories John tells himself comfort him, nothing works for long. John can’t fool himself—his father is dead.... (full context)
Chapter 4: What He Remembered
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
On the seventh day that John and Kathy spend at Lake of the Woods, John remembers, nothing much happens. They laugh... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
When John speaks to others later on, he cannot remember every detail of his day with Kathy.... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
For the rest of the afternoon, Kathy does crosswords and John organizes bills. Feeling “electricity in his blood,” John twice tries to call Tony Carbo, but... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
John can’t recall what happened next. He may have napped, or had a drink. He does,... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John and Kathy take their mail, go grocery shopping, and then go to a Mini-Mart. Kathy... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Back in their cottage, John and Kathy have some food and listen to music. At 8 pm, they walk around... (full context)
Chapter 5: Hypothesis
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...is that Kathy has a secret lover. During her seventh day at the cottage with John, Kathy may have been thinking about this lover: a simple, honest man, totally unlike her... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Perhaps Kathy couldn’t bear to tell John about her secret lover. She may have staged her own disappearance—this is unlikely, the narrator... (full context)
Chapter 6: Evidence
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
...“evidence.” The first piece of evidence comes from Richard Thinbill, who says, “We called him Sorcerer.” The next pieces of evidence are related to John’s love for magic and magic tricks:... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Eleanor says that John was always well behaved as a child. John’s service in the war had a big... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Ruth Rasmussen says that John threw away a perfectly good teakettle. Vincent Pearson, a part-time detective, insists that John “did... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Nature of Marriage
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
As a child, John loved to perform magic tricks: silk scarves, a disappearing penny, etc. While these are only... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John meets Kathy in 1966, when he’s a senior at the University of Minnesota, and Kathy... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John continues spying on Kathy: he watched when she buys his birthday present, and when she... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
John graduates college in June of 1967, when the Vietnam war is in progress. In nine... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
John isn’t a great soldier, but he’s popular among the other men. He does card tricks... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
John’s magic eventually works its way into the military plans of his division, Charlie Company. The... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John worries that Kathy is growing distant. In a letter she sends him, she describes the... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
In February, an enemy sniper shoots a soldier named Reinhart; John is with Reinhart when he dies. John feels his body fill with anger, sadness, and... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John returns to the United States in 1969. He calls Kathy, but hangs up before she... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The night he sees Kathy, John sleeps in a hotel and thinks about his father’s funeral. He remembers wanting to hit... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John watches as Kathy leaves her dorm and makes a phone call from a payphone. He... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
When John and Kathy get married, they promise to be true to one another, and move into... (full context)
Chapter 8: How the Night Passed
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
This chapter discusses John’s behavior on the night before he supposedly discovered that Kathy was missing. He wakes up... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
John waits for the water to boil, and thinks about the primaries. He lost all but... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
The water boils, and John, saying “Kill Jesus,” pours it over a geranium plant near the cottage’s fireplace. The plant... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
In the days following Kathy’s disappearance, John will think of what he should have done that night. He should have woken Kathy... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
John later claims that he forgets what else he did that night. At one point, he... (full context)
Chapter 9: Hypothesis
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The chapter is structured around another hypothesis for Kathy’s disappearance: Kathy heard John walking around in the night and got scared. Thus, she left the cottage. She might... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Staring into the cottage from outside, Kathy might have seen John, yelling and laughing and looking completely unlike the man she thought she knew. Perhaps she... (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
Kathy might have thought about everything that had happened to John lately. In August and September, the newspapers broke new information about John, information that made... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...night near Lake of the Woods, she might have gone inside and seen the plants John killed. At this, she may have left—or, the narrator admits, maybe not. Maybe she walked... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Nature of Love
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
“One evening,” while John is still in the midst of his political career, John and Kathy are at a... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John went to Vietnam because of love, not because he wanted to be a good citizen... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
In college, John and Kathy often go to a bar called The Bottle Top. One night, John dares... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Before John and Kathy can marry, John fights in Vietnam. He sends Kathy letters in which he... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
As a child of nine or ten, John would lie in bed, surrounded by catalogs of magic tricks, making note of all the... (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
One day in Vietnam, John senses, “Something was wrong.” He’s surrounded by gunfire and dead women. He sees dead animals... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Back in Minnesota, John is elected to the State Senate. He celebrates by hosting a small party, and getting... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
The narrator returns to describing John’s experiences in Vietnam. One evening, Charlie Company approaches a small village. The company is attacked... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
As a child, John practices magic tricks in front of the mirror. He thinks that he can use magic... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
John’s father is a popular, charming man. The other boys in the neighborhood love to play... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
As an adult, before he’s found political success, John goes on walks with Kathy and discusses buying a house. Kathy wants to buy a... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sorcerer, the narrator says, thought he would get away with murder. Shooting PFC Weatherby was an... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
In 1982, John Wade is elected lieutenant governor of Minnesota. He is 37 at the time. At the... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
At the age of eleven, John and his father drive to Karra’s Studio of Magic to buy John’s Christmas present. John... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
At the magic shop, John chooses a magic trick called the “Guillotine of Death,” which is heavy and almost two... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
As an adult, John thinks that he wants to crawl inside Kathy’s belly. He’s afraid of losing her, and... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
In Vietnam, the narrator says, Sorcerer is in his element. Vietnam is a place with tunnels, trap doors, monsters, and magic.... (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 knows that he is sick. He tries to tell Kathy about his sickness. As they... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
John doesn’t tell anyone about killing PFC Weatherby. However, he sometimes thinks he sees PFC Weatherby... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
When John’s father died, John was a teenager. The day he was buried, John performed magic in... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
After John returns from Vietnam, Kathy doesn’t insist that John talk to a psychiatrist. At times, though,... (full context)
Chapter 11: What He Did Next
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
The chapter describes John’s behavior the day he allegedly discovers that Kathy is missing. John wakes up late, and... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
John cleans up the dead houseplants he killed last night. He rehearses an explanation he’ll give... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
A little later, John awakes from a light nap, thinking that he hears something moving in the room. He... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Around 6 pm, John has a drink and walks to the dock. He begins to sense that something isn’t... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
The night of the day Kathy disappears, John takes a shower and drinks the rest of his vodka. He begins drinking rum. He... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
At the boathouse, John sees that the boat is gone—“as it had to be.” He thinks that he and... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John drives to see Ruth Rasmussen, who insists that John is drunk, though John insists that... (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.... (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.... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Back at the cottage, John walks Claude through the rooms. Claude asks where the phone is, and John says that... (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 the lake... (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;... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Claude calls Ruth, talks to her, and tells John that Ruth has been calling various local numbers and hasn’t reached Kathy yet. He notices... (full context)
Chapter 12: Evidence
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Patricia claims that John thought of himself as Sorcerer long after Vietnam, and that Kathy thought of him as... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Tony Carbo says that John was a charmer, and Ruth Rasmussen calls him a nice, polite man. Bethany Lee claims... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Eleanor says that when John was eleven, his father, whose name was Paul, went to stay with a state treatment... (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
...magician uses to distract the audience from the real source of his trick. In Vietnam, John sends Kathy a letter about having a strange infection in his body. He signs the... (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
...know to do the right thing. The historian Robert A. Caro describes how angry Lyndon Johnson would become after losing an election, and the politician Thomas E. Dewey notes that all... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Nature of the Beast
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
In Vietnam the soldiers in John’s unit complain that the war is a nightmare, and that it’s impossible to find the... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
On March 15, John receives a letter from Kathy. Kathy writes that John will have to treat her like... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...1968, Charlie Company ventures by helicopter into Pinkville and goes to a hamlet, Thuan Yen. Sorcerer feels energy in the air and senses the “pure wrongness” of the day. Sorcerer is... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
In the coming years, John will forget what happens next in Thuan Yen—he will think, “This could not have happened.... (full context)
Chapter 14: Hypothesis
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...boating accident. She might have awoken early in the morning and turned to look at John as he slept. She would have wished that she could say something that would make... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
After kissing John, Kathy may have showered and gotten dressed. She would have done some crossword puzzles while... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
As she thought about John’s career, perhaps Kathy smelled the odor of dead plants and soil from the trash. As... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Alone in the boat, Kathy may have contemplated asking John about Harmon. Perhaps while she steered the boat around nearby Magnuson’s Island, the boat hit... (full context)
Chapter 15: What the Questions Were
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...at Vinny Pearson’s 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.... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Lux tells John that they haven’t found Kathy, and that it may take a while to do so,... (full context)
Lux continues to ask John questions. He asks John for basic information about Kathy—age, height, etc. He also asks John... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Art asks John what time he woke up the day he found Kathy missing (yesterday). Upon further question,... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Lux asks John if he and Kathy had argued, and mentions John’s campaign, and the recent news about... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Lux asks John one more question before he and Vinny leave: why did John unplug his phone? (Claude... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
After Vinny and Lux leave, John hears Claude and Ruth in the kitchen, making breakfast. John asks Claude why he mentioned... (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
When John wakes up, it’s almost 6 pm. He goes out into the living room, where Claude... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
In the evening, John drinks vodka and tries to call Patricia Hood again. He tries a few more times,... (full context)
Chapter 16: Evidence
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
Tony Carbo says that John handled “it” in his own way, but adds that John was destroyed long before “it”... (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
...and children, and seeing other soldiers shoot them. We’re also presented with a box of John’s “tricks,” dating from the time after he returned from the war: 12 photographs of his... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...only tell their friends, and still others that they never tell anyone. Patricia says that John used to yell in his sleep, and Vinny claims that “something was wrong” with John.... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Nature of Politics
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
In November 1968, John extends his tour in Vietnam for an extra year. He does this because he feels... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
After he extends his tour, John tries hard to forget what he’s seen in Vietnam. He is promoted twice, but in... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
In November of 1969, John returns to the United States, having won many medals. He marries Kathy five months later,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
In 1976, John announces that he is running for the Minnesota State Senate. He asks Tony Carbo, an... (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
John is in the state senate for six years. Tony runs his campaigns, which are expensive,... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Because John is a state senator, his life with Kathy is sometimes difficult. They are happy, but... (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
Several times, Tony asks John if he’s “clean,” and John responds that he is. Tony also asks about religion; John... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
In July 1982, shortly after John becomes lieutanent governor, Kathy tells John that she is pregnant. John and Kathy have many... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
A short time later, John casually tells Kathy that they have done the right thing. Kathy insists that all she... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
On January 19, 1986, John announces his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Polls put him well ahead of his nearest... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
After John announces his candidacy, he, Kathy, and Tony have dinner. Kathy mentions that John’s campaign seems... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Tony asks John what issues he’d like to talk about, and John admits that it’s probably better to... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
While Kathy is in the bathroom, Tony tells John she’s a “yummy specimen,” and points out that Kathy thinks John is “Mr. Clean.” When... (full context)
Chapter 18: Hypothesis
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...how Kathy disappeared, similar to the one mentioned in Chapter 14. Kathy might have left John to go boating around Magnuson and then continued to American Point and Buckete Island. As... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...boat using a gas can, and then head back south. Perhaps she was contemplating telling John about how easily she could have been lost, thereby reminding him to keep his priorities... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
As Kathy drove back to John’s cottage, the narrator speculates, she might have felt curiously fearless. Perhaps she felt this way... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...fact of being lost, Kathy probably would have decided to come ashore and wait for John to find her. Perhaps she found a small island, parked her boat there, and went... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...narrator suggests, she may have been thinking of the night long ago when she and John went dancing at the Bottle Top. John had kissed her and then made a small... (full context)
Chapter 19: What Was Found
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
By the morning of September 21, two days after John discovers Kathy missing, there are almost a hundred volunteers searching the lake for Kathy, along... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Around noon that day, Kathy’s sister calls John from International Falls and tells him that she needs to be picked up in an... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John stops at the Texaco station, where Lux is drinking coffee. Lux tells him that he... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John waits for Pat at the town landing. He has a hangover, and thinks that he... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
In the cottage, Pay says she needs to take a shower. While she does so, John tries to imagine Lux calling him with good news, or Kathy walking into the room.... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
John tells Pat about Kathy’s health, the boat, and the search. For half an hour, he... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Together, Pat and John walk along the dirt road by the boathouse, and then turn into the forest toward... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Pat tells John that Kathy was a very good person, and deeply in love with John. John replies... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Pat tells John that Kathy hated being a politician’s life. John dismisses this suggestion, and tells Pat that... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Pat and John walk back to the cottage, where Ruth and Claude are waiting. John introduces Pat to... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
John tells Claude that he wants a boat tomorrow, so that he can explore the lake... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
John spends the rest of the night drinking vodka and trying to sleep. Around midnight, he... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
John feels a tremendous sense of guilt. He leaves the boathouse and turns off the flashlight.... (full context)
Chapter 20: Evidence
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The chapter consists entirely of quotes and statistics related to John. The first is from Ruth Rasmussen, who claims that John and Kathy were like onions:... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Sandra Karra praises John for having “slick hands” and keeping his mouth shut—two invaluable skills for a magician. Pat... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...claims that he shot no people in Vietnam, only cows. Eleanor says that she “found” John’s father in the garage, and that she “knew” even before she went in. A biographer... (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
Eleanor says that John became more secretive after his father hanged himself. Lawrence Ehlers, John’s gym coach, describes the... (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
Tony Carbo says that John repressed his terrible experiences in Vietnam, to the point where John himself barely remembered them,... (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
Eleanor reports that John was yelling at his father’s funeral—she thinks that John never accepted his father’s death, since... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Richard Thinbill, at a court-martial, explains that a soldier nicknamed Sorcerer shot an old man “by accident.” The questioners ask Thinbill to remember the soldier’s real... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...ghosts and graveyards everywhere. The narrator claims to have arrived in Vietnam a year after John got there. When he saw My Lai, he understood why the massacre occurred: “it was... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Nature of the Spirit
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...shoot, rape, sodomize, and stab Vietnamese villagers. PFC Richard Thinbill, a young, good-looking man, asks Sorcerer if he can hear “the sound.” Sorcerer nods that he can, except that it’s actually... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
The narrative cuts to John’s Senate campaign. On September 9, John loses in a landslide. John delivers a brief concession... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Tony tells John that he’ll be working for Ed Durkee, the man who defeated John, from now on.... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...Charlie Company moves toward the sea in the east. Thinbill mentions the spirit world to Sorcerer, and observes, “Fuckers just don’t die.” The soldiers are mostly silent, although Calley is talkative,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
...their bodies, but Thinbill insists that they’ll never be able to wash their experiences away. Sorcerer advises Thinbill to forget. As they talk, they hear flies buzzing all around them. (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
The next day, Charlie Company travels toward a river, and Sorcerer can’t stop thinking about the old man with a hoe whom he shot. He tries... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
John remembers how his father called him Jiggling John. John knew at the time that his... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
By the eighth grade, John has begun to grow, and his father calls him Javelin John instead of making fun... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...suffering: women who have been raped and stabbed, mass graves, and men with missing limbs. Sorcerer tells himself that it is all an illusion. The narrator writes that Sorcerer isn’t fooled. (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
...murderous. Thinbill, intimidated, says that he hasn’t heard any rumors of this. When Calley asks Sorcerer if he’s heard anything about murder, Sorcerer says he’s “deaf” and “blind.” Afterwards, Calley tells... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Later in the night, Thinbill approaches Sorcerer and asks him if he thinks the two of them should say something about the... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
As John giggles, he thinks about the other soldiers firing quickly and skillfully at Vietnamese women and... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
As John stops laughing, he hears other sounds in the area—some people are crying, and there are... (full context)
Chapter 22: Hypothesis
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...and remembers 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:... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...penis. She 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.... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
At the casino, John says, half-jokingly, that he’d have to “bomb the place” to get Kathy to leave the... (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
...out, Kathy and Tony sit alone at a bar, drinking. Kathy complains to Tony that John has ruined her evening. The feeling of luck and winning, far better than the feeling... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Tony and Kathy continue to talk at the bar. Tony points out that John’s career is a lot like his performances as a magician. He performs magic, and part... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...cold, and wishes she were back on the island with her fire. She thinks about John, and decides that she still loves him very much. She remembers the “glow” that they... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...if he wanted to know more, and he said he didn’t. Tony asked Kathy if John found out about Kathy’s infidelity; Kathy replied that he found out some, but not everything—she... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Kathy walked into her hotel room and saw John, clearly pretending to sleep. Kathy thought about what she’d accomplished at the casino. She won... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
As Kathy watched John lying in bed, seemingly asleep, she heard him yell out. She did not touch him,... (full context)
Chapter 23: Where They Looked
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
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 that they can... (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 will be based... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Claude, Pat, and John circle around the islands. There is mist, making it difficult to see anything, but they... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
As John looks for life on the islands, he remembers a song, “I know a girl, name... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
John thinks that Pat is suspicious of him; he can tell by the way she stares... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
It is twilight, and Pat, John, and Claude tie up Claude’s boat near the Angle Inlet boatyard. They have been searching... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
As Pat, John, and Claude walk toward the fire, John sees that the men sitting there are Vincent... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Everyone gathers around the fire: John, Pat, Claude, Vincent, Lux, and at least six other people. Lux introduces everyone to these... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
John notices Pat and Lux talking quietly to one another. He contemplates telling them “secrets” about... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
The next day, John, Pat, and Claude go out on the lake to look for Kathy, and they continue... (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... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
The next day, it snows in Lake of the Woods, and John spends the morning shoveling snow in the driveway outside Claude’s house. He thinks about magic,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
At dusk, John removes his clothes and jumps into the lake, where, he thinks, Kathy is. He closes... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
At 8 pm, Art Lux calls the cottage. After speaking to Pat, he tells John that the search for Kathy is being discontinued due to paperwork and red tape. John... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
After speaking to Lux, Claude explains to John that the police want to look around John’s cottage, on the chance that Kathy is... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Claude suggests that John hasn’t been crying for Kathy because there’s no use crying. Claude also suggests that John... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
The next day, John, Claude, and Pat go out once again on the boat to look for Kathy. Pat... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
That night, John sleeps in his cottage and dreams about an enormous computer, with circuits made of electric... (full context)
Chapter 24: Hypothesis
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
In this hypothesis about Kathy’s disappearance, the narrator suggests that Kathy had already left John in the summer of 1983, when she had an affair with Harmon in Boston. Later,... (full context)
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
After visiting Harmon in Boston, Kathy flew back to Minneapolis to see John. She drank a few martinis on her flight, and when she returned to her home,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
As John and Kathy talked about her trip to Boston, Kathy apologized for the storm that made... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...Woods, preparing to kill herself, perhaps she thought more about returning from Boston and greeting John. When Kathy returned from visiting Harmon, she stood outside her house with her robe open,... (full context)
Chapter 25: Evidence
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
This chapter is another collection of evidence about John. The first piece of evidence is a quote from Vincent Pearson, comparing John to the... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Ruth Rasmussen insists that John didn’t kill Kathy, because he loved her—just like Claude loves Ruth. Lux insists that he... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Patricia says that Kathy tried “too hard” with John, while Patricia herself never gave John a chance. Bethany Kee notes that Kathy always wanted... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...about the flies. In another piece of evidence, from a court-martial, he tries to remember Sorcerer’s real name, but can’t, noting that Sorcerer giggled after the Vietnamese massacres. Patricia admits that... (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
There is a list of John’s “Box of Tricks.” It includes invisible ink, a coin trick, and a copy of The... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
There follows a series of quotes about John’s multiple names. Vincent Pearson insists that John’s nickname, “Sorcerer,” proves that he was a deceptive... (full context)
Chapter 26: The Nature of the Dark
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...who fought in Vietnam were young: Calley was 24, T’Souza was 19, Thinbill was 18, Sorcerer was 23, etc. After the massacre at Thuan Yen, they spent months fighting in the... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Charlie Company never returns to Thuan Yen; it moves on to other places. Sorcerer tries to forget about the massacre; he takes extra risks in battle to help himself... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
In the middle of combat, Sorcerer sometimes feels as if the trees are talking. He also hears voices from the village... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Two months before his tour ends, Sorcerer takes up a desk job, where he does paperwork all day. He contemplates his future,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
When he lands in the United States in Seattle, John calls Kathy, but hangs up after two rings. When he’s in a plane flying back... (full context)
Chapter 27: Hypothesis
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
In this hypothesis about how Kathy disappeared, John wakes up late at night, sweating. He remembers how the news of his involvement in... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
After the water boils, John takes the teakettle and killed a young spider plant. He isn’t angry—he’s acting out of... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
As John stands over Kathy, he tips the teakettle forward. Kathy eyes open slightly as he does... (full context)
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
The narrator suggests that John wraps Kathy in a sheet and carries her to the dock. He is very gentle,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Perhaps, the narrator suggests, John sank along with Kathy for a while before he let the body go and returned... (full context)
Chapter 28: How He Went Away
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
It is 7 am and John is riding in Claude’s boat, the day after Claude told him about Lux’s plan to... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
As he rides north, John remembers talking to Kathy about his actions at Thuan Yen. He told her “everything he... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
In the evening, John drives the boat to land and makes a small fire, where he eats a sandwich... (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
John goes to asleep. Late at night he wakes up—it’s raining. He says, “Well, Kath?” but... (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
At the end of the day, John turns on the radio in the boat and speaks into it. Claude’s voice answers. Claude... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
For the rest of the day and into the night, John eats, drinks, and feels miserable in the cold. He thinks that misery is the point,... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
John thinks about his memories. He can’t stop thinking about Thuan Yen. Similarly, his memories of... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
John continues to drunkenly speak into his radio. He conducts a “talk show” with himself, noting... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
At 6:30 am, John throws his radio in the water and continues on through the water. (full context)
Chapter 29: The Nature of the Angles
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...blue to gray to white to blue. It is in this place, at least in John’s imagination, that Kathy lies, staring up from beneath the water and trying to speak. She... (full context)
Chapter 30: Evidence
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
...actress. Lux says that he never found anything in Lake of the Woods that incriminated John, and compares the process of investigating a crime to digging a hole in sand—the hole... (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
...to the Pacific ports, precisely because they are unfamiliar to him. Ruth Rasmussen argues that John’s sudden departure need not mean anything bad—sometimes people leave. (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...Lux agrees with Vincent that something doesn’t add up about Kathy disappearance. He says that John is wrong: one plus one never equals zero. Ruth Rasmussen says that Claude was angry... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
...admits that it was he, not the Peers Commission, who was looking for dirt on John. In a letter to John, Richard Thinbill apologizes for giving testimony that was used to... (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
Patricia remembers how Kathy heard about John’s actions in Thuan Yen. After reading about it, she waited for John to come home.... (full context)
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
A partial list of John’s “Box of Tricks” includes a mouse cage, a document of honorable military discharge, and a... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Ruth notes that Claude died shortly after John’s disappearance, and that he and John developed a close trust for one another. Lux says... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Various people speculate on where John is now. Ruth is optimistic: she believes that John and Kathy are together in Hudson... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Three more people guess what became of John and Kathy. Bethany notes that Kathy seemed happy and carefree after the end of the... (full context)
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
In a footnote to Thinbill’s final comment, the narrator discusses the peculiarities of memory. Like John, the narrator has his own old man with a hoe, and his own PFC Weatherby.... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
War, Memory, and Trauma Theme Icon
...continues, humans have the power to grow from trauma by forgetting. Strangely, the narrator says, John Wade’s experiences in Vietnam seem much more vivid that the narrator’s own. This may be... (full context)
Chapter 31: Hypothesis
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
The narrator offers one last hypothesis for what happened to John and Kathy. After a book of pessimism and cynicism, the narrator notes, it’s time to... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...footnotes, the narrator discusses the proper way to end his story. One could believe that John poured boiling water on Kathy and disposed of the body. This is an aesthetic question—perhaps... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Perhaps, the narrator suggests, John rejoined Kathy in Buckete Island or Massacre Island. They reunited, and sat around a fire... (full context)
Vietnam, Authorship, Interpretation Theme Icon
Evil, Human Nature, and Freedom Theme Icon
Appearance, the Unknowable, and Magic Theme Icon
Love and Relationships Theme Icon
...continues, because there is no solution to a mystery as big as the mystery of John and Kathy. The narrator adds that everyone has secrets, and everyone performs vanishing tricks. (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 makes a radio broadcast on October 26, 1986. He is drunk. He speaks to his... (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
The novel ends with the image of John alone on Lake of the Woods, heading north, “lost in the tangle.” The narrator asks... (full context)