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The Nuances Of Nature Essay

1459 words - 6 pages

It is no secret that Robert Penn Warren’s novel, All The King’s Men, is a powerful peace of literature that gives useful insight into the lives of characters in the United States in the early twentieth century. Though many believe this novel should be considered for its political applications, it is the social aspects of this book that really provide Warren’s perspective on the human experience. Warren uses nature both as a guiding and transcendent force to steer his main character, Jack, along the path to realize his humanity and as a tool to reveal valuable insights on the communion of mankind.
Jack is first described in relation to a “sunset on a summer day.” He is caught watching the “light stretching out” and proclaims himself to be “a brass-bound Idealist” (Warren 30). Jack effectively establishes his fundamental connection to nature very early on in the novel. He strengthens this connection when he describes Burden’s landing by how “the air would smell” and how the sights would look as well as his memories of fishing and sailing “all over that end of the Gulf of Mexico” (Warren 37-39). Already, his experience is defined by the variance within nature. As Jack grows up, he becomes more jaded and leaves his childlike state of mind. Maturing out of his idealist phase, Jack begins his romantic stage of characterization. This stage in Jack’s development is most effectively embodied in the image of Anne with her arms “still spread out wide” and her hair floating “free[ly] on the water from around her head” (Warren 118). It is clear that Jack idealizes Anne just by the way in which he describes her. He is content just to stare at Anne and relate her to nature, showing the true connection he feels to her. After Jack’s romantic ideals and illusions have been shattered by Anne’s affair with Willie, Jack moves into his phase of cynicism. This stage is characterized by Jack’s physical move westward. Jack describes as “where you go when the land gives out and the old field pines encroach” (Warren 270). Jack is so shattered by Anne’s affair with Willie that it is almost as if nature itself has let him down at this point. The fact that nature is Jack’s guiding force combined with Jack’s disdain for and disappointment in nature serve to further illustrate his strong connection to his environment. Not long after he embarks on his journey, Jack’s cynicism becomes evident in his description of the west. Jack now describes the west as “just where I went” (Warren 270). Jack’s cynicism has clearly set in, for he is all about the cold, hard facts at this point. Jack then takes this cynicism one step further; he begins his nihilist stage. This stage of Jack’s development is characterized by his belief in “the Great Twitch.” He describes this phenomenon as “the dream that all life is but the dark heave of blood and the twitch of the nerve” and therefore that “nothing was your fault or anybody’s fault, for things are always as they are” (Warren 311). He believes...

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