All the King's Men

In "All the King's Men", characters seem to be motivated by three main sources of power: the life that has private meaning, the force that lives within Willie Stark, and the vitality of Nature. These sources of power are identifiable primarily, if not solely, through the image patterns found in the novel. "All the King's Men" is Jack Burden's self-conscious confession and his ironic, subjective recounting of the rise and fall of Willie Stark. In "All the King's Men" is shown that Willie Stark was corrupted from the beginning and moreover, the political party system assisted him in maintaining his political position. While Willie Stark played to those negatives and generated a spirit of anger and frustration that he used to catapult to the top and make policy, Bill Clinton sees himself as a healing persona; someone who doesn't want to generate anger and wants to reduce pain. Willie, on the other hand, can be identified with Gilbert. Willie begins in the novel as a rural innocent, naive and morally straightforward. Encouraged to run for governor by Tiny Duffy in order to split the rural vote and assure the reelection of the incumbent governor, Willie is an abject political failure. Jack Burden, as a newspaper reporter following Willie's campaign, diagnoses Willie's initial failure-"Too muck talk about principles and not enough about promises."(1) But it is not long before Willie abandons traditional principles and discovers, as did Gilbert, moral pragmatism. What is right by political system, he comes to believe, is what produces results however, it may not right by law. He explains his new philosophy to Adam Stanton: "Now an individual, one fellow, he will stop doing business because he's got a notion of what is right, and he is a hero.

But folks in general, which is society, Doc, is never going to stop doing business. Society is just going to cook up a new notion of what is right."(1) From the first chapter of All the King's Men forward, Willie often focalizes through the person he was at a previous time to illustrate his development for his deeds. Willie Stark is an idealist doomed by his ideals. He is clearly heir to the attitudes that are represented by Cass Mastern, and, like Mastern, "he wants to throw the world away," a feat they both accomplish by allowing themselves to be killed. His attitude, both toward the characters and characteristics of Burden's Landing and those of the world of Willie Stark, is, simply, 'I Am With You But Not Of You'. He is ghost, insubstantial and untouched, until the moment when his mother's "silvery scream" when she learns of Judge Irwin's suicide drags him back into a very un-ideal world. "There is always a certain air of contempt for Willie, the untutored man of the people, a sense that Willie considers himself superior to The Boss. "Willie never quite loses the sense of condescension that the born aristocrat has for the plebian tribune."(1) When in the company of the Southern aristocracy, his attitude, though not his demeanor, stays the same. He is present but apart. Willie Stark is the modern pragmatist, believing that "Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passed from the stink of the did in to the stench of the shroud," a position that is as far from the aristocratic ideal represented by Adam Stanton as is possible.( Robert Penn Warren) The change in Willie also destroys his usefulness in the world which for so many years he controlled. He controlled it because he had no need to justify his actions on any but pragmatic grounds and political party system was providing him with all required resources. His view of the world was consistent and ordered. It accounted for everything. ...

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