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Willie Stark As Huey Long Essay

1260 words - 5 pages

Robert Penn Warren’s novel, All the King’s Men depicts the tale of the rise of a political leader named Willie Stark. Many readers have speculated that Warren based Willie Stark’s character on Huey Long, a controversial, political leader from Louisiana who was prominent during the early 1900s. Although Robert Penn Warren has “repeatedly denied that Willie Stark is a fictional portrait of Huey Long,” many aspects of the novel directly correlate to the political career and personal life of Huey Long (Payne). Robert Penn Warren creates a character whose experiences and political career directly correlate to the events in Huey Long’s life. The speculations that Willie Stark is a fictional representation of Huey Long are indisputable due to the events in the novel and the characterization of Willie Stark,
Huey Long came from a humble background. His father, Huey Pierce Long, Sr. was a “livestock farmer” from Winn Parish, one of the “poorest parishes in a very poor state” (Hueylong.com). Willie Stark also hailed from a modest background. Penn describes Willie as a “red-faced and red-necked farm boy” demonstrating humble roots similar to those of Huey Long (7, Warren). Willie also comes from a low class family, which enables him to identify with the common man of society. For example, during his impromptu speech in front of the convenient store, Willie uses Germanic diction and speaks to the “folks” in the town of his being called to “come home” and the importance of roots (16-17). Huey and Willie’s upbringings are clearly a connection between the two men and directly impact their personalities and decisions that they make throughout their lives.
Perhaps a more concrete example of the association between the fictional Willie Stark and southern politician Huey Long are their demises. Both men’s lives come to a violent end when they are assassinated. Huey Long was murdered by Dr. Carl Weiss, the son of a Judge Long, who Long was attempting to remove from the bench (worldpress.com). According to a newspaper article covering Long’s murder, Weiss reportedly “fired a handgun at Long” in the State Capitol building on the evening of September 8, 1935 (worldpress.com). Dr. Weiss’s bullet “fatally [struck] him in the abdomen” but death was not instant; Huey Long died two days after the shooting (worldpress.com). In the same way as Huey Long was murdered, Stark is attacked by Adam Stanton after Adam who was offended by the discovery of Willie and Anne’s affair. Adam approaches Willie and “[puts] out his hand,” but instead of giving in a handshake like Jack had hoped, Adam shoots Willie (596). Jack watches as “two little spurts of pale-orange flame from the muzzle of the weapon” are released, but Willie “did not die there in the lobby under the dome” (598). Although Willie survives the attack in the Capitol building, he dies the third day following his surgery to remove the bullets. Both assassinations, that of Willie Stark and Huey Long...

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