In the Lake of the Woods Short Essay - Answer Key

Tim O'Brien
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Short Essay Questions Key

1. Describe the setting of the opening scene of In the Lake of the Woods.

The novel opens in a cabin at Lake of the Woods, where John and Kathy have retreated together after a shellacking in the primary for the U.S. senate seat in Minnesota. John and Kathy spend their time talking, trying to get a handle on what happened.

2. Why did John lose the election?

It came out shortly before the election that while he was in Vietnam, he and his company massacred a village of Vietnamese women and children. The massacre had been investigated, but John's part in it had not been known.

3. How well are John and Kathy doing, at coping with events?

They tell each other charming stories about the places they'll visit and the money they'll have and the children they'll have, but they can't escape from the reality of what's happened, which Kathy had discovered along with everyone else. This changed her idea of John and their marriage, and it ended John's political career, and he can't keep himself from thinking 'Kill Jesus', the worst thing he can think of.

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