"All The King's Men" By Robert Penn Warren: Summary And Response

956 words - 4 pages

Summary:All the King's Men was written by Robert Penn Warren and published in 1946. It is about a politician named Willie Talos, who becomes the governor of a state somewhere in the South. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947, and was made into a movie in 1949. Willie Talos suddenly becomes well known throughout his state because of the collapse of a schoolhouse. He had warned the people not to use that contractor, who was known to use inferior materials, but no one listened to him. When the schoolhouse collapsed, killing three children, Willie's idea that state government made some kind of secret agreement with the contractor was brought to many people's attention. Sadie Burke and Tiny Duffy, working for another candidate, convince Willie to run for governor so the votes for the others would be split. When Willie finds out, he is furious, and makes an emotional speech that the crowd loves. But he drops out of the election, and campaigns against Sadie and Tiny's candidate. Four years later, Willie becomes governor and hires Jack Burden as an addition to his pack of political cronies, which already includes Tiny Duffy, lieutenant-governor, and Sugar-Boy, Willie's reckless driver and bodyguard. Jack Burden is a reporter who admires Willie Talos. Jack is also a historian, having studied American history at the state college where he also researched and started to write the biography of Cass Masters, one of Jack's ancestors. Jack is used by Willie to research his opponents and find unpleasant facts about them.Response:Throughout the book, the story shifts in time. The main time periods are the present, three years ago, and fourteen years ago. Although this can be a little confusing, it makes it easy to see the changes in Willie's personality. He goes from being quiet, careful, and always honest, to a bullying governor who is seeking revenge on the Judge for not supporting him.Summary:Judge Irwin makes himself an enemy of Willie by backing an opposing candidate, and Jack is asked to "dig up some dirt" on him. But Jack hesitates, since he has known the judge his whole life. The judge was like a father to him. But he decides that there is probably nothing to find, since the judge has such a good reputation. Willie knows better. He says that everyone has some secret, and the judge is no exception. After Jack had researched the judge for seven months, he discovers that Judge Irwin had once accepted a bribe, and that Joel Stanton, the governor and the father of Jack's childhood friends Adam and Anne Stanton, had covered it up. Jack hopes that he never has to reveal this. But when Willie wants Adam to become the director of his new hospital, Jack has to tell Adam to persuade him....

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