All The King's Men Character Analysis

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The Great Twitch and Cass Mastern In All The King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren tells the story of Willie Stark, Governor of a an unnamed state in the south during the mid 1900s. The story is narrated by Jack Burden, a man that was employed by Stark to do miscellaneous tasks. Throughout the novel Burden does not have a sense of responsibility for his actions and fails to realize the actions will have future consequences. Chapter four in the novel focuses on Cass Mastern, the topic of Burden’s dissention paper that he abandoned. Though many think that the story and information provided about Cass Mastern’s life are irrelevant to the remainder of the novel, the account of Mastern’s life provide an index to compare the character development of Jack …show more content…
After seven months of searching for information to use against Judge Irwin, burden learns that the judge was once broke. The judge received stock and a lucrative job in return for dismissing a court case. Burden also discovered that Governor Staton illegally protected the judge. Burden later tells Anne and Adam about her father’s involvement with the scandal. This has consequences that Burden fails to acknowledge until later in the novel. The news destroys Anne and Adam’s perfect image of their father and their need to meet up with the standards that his has set for them. This leads to Adam accepting the job as director of Willie’s hospital and Anne’s affair with Willie. After Burden confronts the judge about the bribes that he accepted, he learns the judges commits suicide and that the judge was his father. This is the first thing that breaks Burden and makes him contemplate how his actions have affected those around him. Burden rethinks this acceptance of responsible when he sees a man with a twitch while he is in California. He creates a concept that he calls the “great twitch”. This is a metaphor for the randomness of life. “I decide that is the mystery. That is the secret knowledge..the twitch knows that the twitch is all. Then having found that out in the mystic vision, you feel clean and free (Warren 439).” Meaning that he wasn't responsible for Judge Irwin’s death or for Anne having an …show more content…
He blamed Tiny for Willie’s death because Sadie, Willie’s secretary told Tiny about Willie and Anne’s affair out of jealousy. Tiny told Adam, Anne’s brother which leads to Adam killing Willie. Burden realizes that him holding tiny responsible thus disproves that the great twitch theory that he created. “He woke up one morning discovering that he did not believe in the Great Twitch anymore. He did not believe it because he had seen too many people live and die (Warren 605).” In realizing this Burden has to take responsibility for his involvement in the situation as well and he realizes that had Willie not ask him to look into Judge Irwin’s past, Willie, Adam and the judge would all be alive. In the end Burden reopened the Cass mastern papers signaling the fact that is finally able to understand why Mastern acted the way that he did. “... I write the book I began years ago, the life of Cass Mastern, whom once I could not understand but whom, perhaps, I now may come to understand (Warren 608).” Burden decides to take care of the man that he originally thought was his father. In a way Burden is doing the same thing that Mastern did. He was unable to safe willie, Adam or Judge Irwin, but he would able to help his father. In the same way the Mastern released his slaves when he couldn't find Annabelle's slave. Coming back to the Cass Mastern story at the end shows that it was intended for

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