The Struggles of John Wade in the Novel, In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien

Categories: FictionFree Essays

Many literary works include political and social issues that the main characters face. In the Lake of the Woods, by Tim O’Brian, relays the life of a soldier and politician through characterization and plot enrichment. John Wade, the main character, deals with war crime prosecution, political defeats, and stress, which broadcast messages of peer pressure and time management.

John Wade, a soldier who fights in Vietnam, is placed in an infantry with other soldiers whom he becomes well accustomed to.

The infantry conducts an invasion on the city of Thuan Yen and murders every human, whether he or she is associated with the Vietcong or an innocent citizen. Additionally, the soldier’s awareness of the innocence of the citizens in neglected as the mission is carried on. John Wade is pressured into participating in the massacre, even though he is not on board with the cruel and illegal idea. The pressure imposed by his fellow soldiers is similar to the peer pressure experienced by all ages society under normal circumstances, but on a much larger scale.

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For example, teenagers pressure their peers with lower self-esteem into prohibited actions, such as underage drinking. In addition, O’Brian illustrates through John Wade’s experiences that pressured actions that people do not want to perform will result in negative consequences.

For instance, John Wade is prosecuted for war crimes at Thuan Yen, thus impacting the defeat in the election and ending his rather successful political career. Furthermore, he faces internal chaos because his life regularly consists of remembrance and flashbacks of the massacre, which is an effect of a huge mental scar.

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In the latter part of his life, John Wade becomes a politician who’s career is successful at first but then takes a turn into failure as his relation to the Thuan Yen massacre becomes public, which completely demolishes his career without any remote chance of revival.

In addition, his poor time management leaves him with nothing to fall back on because he invests a huge majority of his time into his political life. O’Brian uses John Wade to inform the reader not to focus on one thing in his or her life. In all honesty, John Wade has nothing to fall back on because he does not create a “Plan B”, which is why he struggles to keep his life on its normal track. Additionally, he uses a vacation as time to clear his mind of all the incoming stress of maintaining his life, which includes bills that cannot be paid due to insufficient funds. In fact, by putting all his marbles in one place, he weakens his relationship with his wife to the point where John Wade strongly believes that could be a motive for her mysterious disappearance. Indeed, the risky gamble causes his life to deteriorate.

In conclusion, O’Brian’s use of characterization and plot enhancement portrays a theme of peer pressure and time management. John Wade’s lethal mistakes teaches the reader to make decisions for his or herself without major influence from others and to spread his attention evently through all the aspects of his life social, economically and politically.

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The Struggles of John Wade in the Novel, In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien. (2022, Apr 20). Retrieved from

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