My Summer Reading Experience Essay

2197 words - 9 pages

Michael Buono

My
Summer Reading Experience

This summer, I
read Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s
Men, Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of
San Luis Rey, and John Knowles’ A
Separate Peace.  All of these novels
have a definite theme which permeates the entire book, and each author uses
descriptive language and solid character development to satisfy the reader.  I enjoyed examining each author’s distinct
style of writing, and each book succeeds in keeping the reader captivated.  I would recommend all of these books to
anyone who is looking for a thought-provoking, challenging, and well-written novel.

Robert Penn
Warren’s All the King’s Men details Willie
Stark’s political career and illustrates the interior struggle of Jack Burden
(who is Stark’s secretary).  Burden
narrates the novel, and he analyzes the personality of Willie Stark (often
referred to as “the Boss”) while searching for a viewpoint that explains his experiences.  Stark (whose life resembles that of Huey
Long, a Senator from Louisiana in the 1930s) begins his political career as a
high-minded lawyer, but in his first campaign for governor, Burden writes that

Nobody would listen to the speeches, including me.  They were awful.  They were full of facts and figures he had
dug up about running the state.  He would
say, ‘Now friends, if you will bear patiently with me for a few minutes, I will
give you the figures,’ and he would clear his throat and fumble with a sheet of
paper and backbones would sag lower in the seats and folks would start cleaning
their fingernails with their pocket knives. 
If Willie had ever thought of talking to folks up on the platform just
the way he could talk to you face to face when he got heated about something,
leaning at you as if he meant every damned word he said and his eyes bugging
out and shining, he might have swayed the constituency.  But no, he was trying to live up to his
notion of a high destiny (Warren 106).

 

After getting crushed in his first
campaign, Stark runs for governor again the next year.  He ditches his moral high ground and becomes a
powerful speaker, and his populist motives make him a crowd-pleaser.   Thus, he is elected governor of
Louisiana.  However, success corrupts
him; Stark relies on intimidation and patronage to stay in office.  Burden, on the other hand, struggles to find
a philosophy that suits him.  The book
contains fantastic descriptive language; Warren goes right inside Burden’s
innermost thoughts.  Stark’s right hand
man describes one philosophy that he stuck to for a while:

I heard somebody open and shut the gate to the barn lot, but I
didn’t look around.  If I didn’t look
around it would not be true that somebody had opened the gate with the creaky
hinges, and that is a wonderful principle for a man to get a hold of.  I had got a hold of the principle out of a
book when I was in college, and I had hung on to it...

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