.".. 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's tat us 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 made things better... ". (p. 66) Although he did not carry his mirror around with him into his adult life, John still carried with him a fantasy life, and when things became difficult would sometimes slip back into this dream. The mirror gave John the ability to totally tune out from what was going on around him, and enter his delusional state. This is evidenced when John returns from war, and alters the records.
In some ways, this act almost convinces John that his concoction is the truth, and he is bringing real life into the fantasy that he so badly aspires toward. Towards the end of the novel, when Kathy disappears, John appears to have entered into his fantasy world, and he is extremely confused about what happened the night that Kath went missing. Perhaps John has stepped inside the mirror, and has lost the ability to separate events that happened in real life, and those he dreamed of. John Wade loved magic.
He had been practicing his tricks since he was a young boy, and magic had a major role in his development. Magic, as well as the mirror, allowed John to create an illusion, and hide himself from the reality of life. John continued on with his hobby, and when he served in Vietnam, he took on the pseudonym; the role of the Sorcerer. By creating a false sense of hope for the men in Charlie Company, he was given the love and attention that he craved for so dearly. This whole routine of the Sorcerer was Wade's way of removing himself from the real event that was Vietnam, and his way of hiding behind the truth and reality of what was really happening. In the end, John Wade became an expert in convincing himself that the truth was not always the truth.
He kept secrets from himself, his wife, and his campaign manager, and it was perhaps these secrets that led to the downfall of his whole existence. Years after John Wade returned from Vietnam, he was still experiencing nightmares and horrible illusions about what had gone on. The war effected John deeply, but he came out the same John Wade underneath. He continued to cover up the truth, just as he had done years earlier with his mirror. John Wade's characteristics, the things that made him who he was, were the result of his childhood, adulthood and the war - rather than the war shaping him, it was life itself.