Kathleen “Kathy” Terese Wade Quotes in In the Lake of the Woods
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.
In this passage, John Wade, who has recently returned from the Vietnam War and married Kathy Wade, contemplates a happy future with his wife. John has been through a great deal—violence, war, an abusive parent, etc.—and he's spent most of his adult life trying to deal with his psychological scars, desperately try to erase them so that he can be "normal." In Kathy, John thinks he's finally found a way to be normal. Kathy is a kind, loving woman, who seems to love John for the person he aspires to be (honest, virtuous, etc.), rather than the person he may secretly be (deceptive, violent, manipulative). O'Brien chooses an interesting metaphor to convey John's aspiration of normality. The idea of one plus one equaling zero is strange—almost like a magic trick itself, though here John insists the opposite. While there are many symbolic interpretations of "one plus one equals zero" (see Symbols), John's thoughts here suggest that he thinks Kathy's normality can "shadow" or erase his own dark past. In other words, John thinks that in Kathy he's found someone so understanding and tolerant that she'll make him forget his traumatic experiences: her "one" will cancel out his own.
Humming to herself, Kathy adjusted the tiller and began planning a dinner menu, two big steaks and salad and cold beer, imagining how she’d describe everything that was happening out here. Get some sympathy for herself. Get his attention for a change.
The idea gave her comfort. She could almost picture a happy ending.
In Chapter 18, we're presented with one hypothesis for how Kathy Wade disappeared: she drove off in a boat by herself after having an argument with John. In this particular section, O'Brien offers us a window into Kathy's thought process for this scenario. As Kathy drives the boat, she thinks about how worried John must be that she's not at home. Moreover, she relishes the reunion she'll have with John that night: they'll have a nice meal and try to make a fresh start.
More generally, the passage offers an explanation for how Kathy has managed to stay married to John—a man she regards as dangerous and mysterious, and who she doesn't really know—for so many years. Kathy is an eternal optimist: no matter how bad things get, she's willing to look forward to a future in which things will be better between her and her husband. And yet Kathy is also something of a masochist: she enjoys the constant struggle for a happy marriage perhaps more than she would enjoy the happy marriage itself. Here, she seems to be enjoying her own "plot" to manipulate John into apology.
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.
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.