P a g e
The Biggest Trick of In the Lake of the Woods
John Wade lived a tumultuous life.
From losing his father at an early age, to
losing an election in the worst possible way after a scandal rocked his campaign, John’s
life was filled with loss and despair.
This loss affected John in a way no one could
really understand, because John never expressed his emotions.
He was secretive in
nature, and people could rarely tell what was on his mind.
This seclusion led John to
cope with loss via magic tricks.
John did not know how to respond to loss of such a big
magnitude, and magic was the only thing there for him to cope with.
John’s perception of reality versus imagination, in a way that distorts his adult life as a
soldier, politician and husband:
John depends more and more on magic as his life goes
on, and in the end it does him in because the trick was on him.
From the beginning, John Wade is interested in magic.
Magic started as a neat
little hobby for an imaginative young boy, but it quickly turned into something that John
needed to live a sane life.
According to John’s mother, Eleanor, “he used to practice
down in the basement, just stand in front of that old mirror of his and do tricks for hours
and hours…Always alone, always shut up by himself” (25).
This aloneness became
exaggerated after the death of his father.
John received the news of his father’s death
very poorly, and he turned to his magic to help him escape from the cruelness of reality.
Death is an devastating event that no one can control, and John turns to magic because
he knows that with magic, he controls everything.
Robert Parrish describes magic as a
“paradox, a riddle, a half-fulfillment of ancient desires, a puzzle, a torment, a cheat, and
a truth” (96).
This is what fascinates John, because as a magician, he knew secrets