In the Lake of the Woods

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Eric Schott ITLOTW Essay October 30, 2008 English 11 The Killing of P.F.C. Weatherby in O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods: Using the Setting to Reflect the Significance of the Death of PFC Weatherby Throughout his book, In the Lake of the Woods, O’Brien refers many times back to the main character John Wade’s memories of the Vietnam War, and especially the massacre of Thuan Yen. The role of the hostile conditions of Thuan Yen were a critical factor in the triggering of Wade's Level 2 defense mechanism of "Acting Out." Before the time of Weatherby’s murder, Wade (107), “had seen him shoot two little girls in the face,” and “killing whatever he could kill” Throughout Thuan Yen. Wade watched “The almost dead twitch until PFC Weatherby had occasion to reload and make them fully dead”(107.) According to Sigmund Freud's theory, defense mechanisms include any of a variety of unconscious personality reactions, which the ego uses to protect the conscious mind from threatening feelings and perceptions. After hours of sinful mayhem throughout Thuan Yen, John had already seen too much to handle. He’d found himself sprinting away from it all, everything; “At one point it occurred to him that the weight of this day would ultimately prove too much, that sooner or later he would have to lighten the load"(108.) Whatever O’Brien meant by this, he must have been referring to Wade releasing his emotions in someway or another, and he did. Later, Wade had found himself at the bottom of an irrigation ditch with many bodies of the dead Vietnamese around him. PFC Weatherby found him there. As he calls out for Wade, or “sorcerer," Wade had turned and shot Weatherby dead right there on the spot. This is the point where Wade's mind is using the method of "Acting Out" and making a statement to show he could no longer keep his emotions hidden inside

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