“…It wasn’t just the war that made him what he was. That’s too easy. It was everything – his whole nature…” – Eleanor K. Wade
IS THIS AN ADEQUATE EXPLANATION FOR WHAT HAPPENS TO JOHN WADE?
John Wade left America a human being, yet came back a human killer. His months in Vietnam were filled with bloodshed and human atrocity, and from this, no man could feasibly return the same person. Yet beneath what John endured throughout the war, he suffered many unkindness’ and tragedies that shaped him into adulthood. It was not only the war that made John Wade, but it was John Wade’s existence; his whole life that made him who he was.
John Wade craved love, admiration and affection. All his life, all he wanted was to be loved, and his father’s constant taunting hurt him immensely. In going to the war, John fulfilled his dream to become a figure who was both admired and respected. He was not a strong, macho man, who thrived upon violence and bloodshed, yet he was young and ambitious. Wade saw the war as a way of gaining ‘hero’ status in order to reach his lifelong ambitions of reaching the U.S Senate. When the revelations about his acts in the war were made, John Wade lost everything that he had fought so hard to build for himself. In this superficial way, one may argue that it was the war that ultimately led to who John Wade became at the end of the novel, yet many other factors involving his life before the war must be examined.
It was John Wade’s childhood and difficult upbringing that played a major role in shaping the man he turned out to be. John was full of admiration for his father, yet he found it difficult to understand the hurtful and remorseless remarks his father would make about his weight and his report cards. His father’s alcoholism also troubled John badly, and he would spend hours in front of the mirror in the basement, living out the fantasies that he so dearly hoped would one day become reality. “…The mirror made the vodka bottles vanish from their hiding place in the garage…” (p.66) John would sometimes take the mirror to bed with him, or take it to school, because the mirror was his way of making everything seem all right; he was able to withdraw from reality and feel comforted within his own ‘make-believe’ world. “…The mirror...