Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research

Article Title

And All the King's Men


All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren is primarily the story of Jack Burden's search for meaning. Jack Burden was born into a wealthy family. His friends as a child and through adulthood included the children of the state governor, Adam and Anne Stanton. Jack seems to float or drift through life, he holds onto nothing strongly. He drifted into college all the way up to his doctoral thesis on a distant relative, Cass Mastern, and found he couldn't finish it. He drifted into and out of a marriage without ever really seeming to have made a substantial commitment of himself. Finally, as a reporter, he drifts into the life of Willie Stark who starts out as a malleable "hick" from the sticks and ends up the beloved, however corrupt, governor of the people. His work with and for Willie leads Jack to the realization of the truth he has been unknowingly seeking.