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Free Study Guide-All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren-Free Book Notes
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The novel is set in the southern part of the United States of America. Though Warren does not mention the State or its capital, it can be surmised that the action of the novel takes place in Louisiana and its capital city, Baton Rouge. Warren was teaching at the Louisiana State University when he got the idea to write All the Kingís Men. The protagonist of his novel, Willie Stark resembles Huey P. Long, the man who had established his political regime in Louisiana. As the governor of Louisiana, Huey worked in the State and was assassinated in its capital, Baton Rouge.

Part of the novel is set in Mason City. In the words of the narrator, " to get there you follow Highway 58, going north east out of the city." This is the place where Jack Burden had met Willie Stark for the first time. As a reporter of the Chronicle, Burden had gone to Mason City to interview Stark, who was its County Treasurer at that time. Later, when he relinquishes his post, Stark settles down in Mason City and pursues a course in law. He keeps visiting the city to be in touch with his father and friends, even after he becomes the Governor of the State.

The other place, which is written about in the novel, is Burdenís Landing. This is the place where Jack Burden was born and brought up. It is also the place where he goes, whenever he needs to refresh his mind. In the words of Burden "Burdenís Landing is one hundred and thirty miles from Mason City, off to the South West." He further writes, " We would come to Burdenís Landing by the new Boulevard by the bay. The air would smell salty, with may be a taint of the fishy, sad, sweet smell of the tide lands to it, but fresh nevertheless... Beyond the downtown and the little houses, there would be the other houses along the bay. They set back in magnolias and oaks, with the white walls showing glitteringly beyond the darkness of the trees, and the jalousies, which in the day time would be green, looking dark against the white walls." Burdenís Landing is a cozy residential area, away from the din and the bustle of the city and in the midst of peaceful lush greenery.


Major Characters

Jack Burden

The narrator of the story and the companion of the protagonist. After doing his research in history, he works as a reporter for the Chronicle before becoming an employee of the Governor. The novel unfolds his story even as it does Willie Starkís.

Willie Stark

The son of a farmer, he becomes the County Treasurer of Mason City. After studying law, he stands for election and gets elected as the Governor of the State. Power transforms him from an idealist to an opportunist.

Adam Stanton

The son of Governor Stanton and a friend of Jack Burden, he is a sincere and devoted doctor. An idealist, he first refuses to work for the Boss. Later, with the change in circumstances, he agrees to become the Director of the medical center.

Anne Stanton

The daughter of Governor Stanton and sister of Adam Stanton, she is a charming and sensitive girl. Jack Burden falls in love with her and decides to marry her. Years later, she becomes the mistress of Willie Stark.

Sadie Burke

The secretary and long-time mistress of Willie Stark. She is outspoken in her manner and crude in her behavior. She is possessive about Stark and hence, is highly intolerant of his friendship with other women.

Minor Characters

Lucy Stark

A former schoolteacher, she marries Willie Stark when he is the County Treasurer for Mason City. She becomes estranged from him after he becomes the Governor of the State. Soft spoken and kind-hearted, she voices her protest whenever Stark acts unethically.

Tom Stark

The son of Willie and Lucy Stark, he is wild in his manner. He loves chasing girls and driving fast cars. As a good foot ball player, he earns recognition. However, he meets with an accident, which paralyses him for life.

Mrs. Burden

She marries Ellis Burden but after he walks out on her, she marries thrice. However, she is happy with none of them because she had always loved Monty Irwin whose child she had borne and named as Jack.

Ellis Burden

The first husband of Jackís mother. He deserts his wife when he discovers her affair with his friend, Monty Irwin and starts living with the underprivileged in a dirty locality of the town. Jack as the Scholarly Attorney refers him to.

Montague Judge Irwin

A man of stature and respectability, he had been Jackís neighbor at Burdenís Landing. A former Attorney General, he supports one of Willieís opponents for the Senate nomination and earns the Governorís displeasure. He is Jackís real father and when his son reminds him about the impropriety he had committed in the past, he commits suicide.

Tiny Duffy

A faithful officer of Willie Stark, he is treated shabbily by the Boss. Nurturing a spirit of revenge against the Boss, he informs Adam about the affair between Stark and Anne. Thus, he is indirectly responsible for the death of the Governor.

Sugar Boy

The bodyguard and driver of the Boss, he is a devoted servant of his master. The death of the Governor is a great blow to him.

Sam MacMurfee

Willie Starkís opponent, he always catches the Boss in the wrong foot. A former Governor, he hopes to contest in the elections to become a Senator.

Dolph Pillsbury

A former chairman of the County Commissioners in Mason City, he is responsible for the collapse of the Schoolhouse in the city.

Theodore Murrell

The fourth husband of Jackís mother, he is the young executive. Mrs. Burden bestows all her property on him after she decides to leave him.

Bryam B. White

Willie Starkís auditor, he gets involved in a scandal. When the Boss tries to protect White, his opponentís demand for Willieís impeachment. The Boss wins the support of the people and saves White but earns the displeasure of Lucy.

Governor Joel Stanton

The father of Adam and Anne Stanton. When he had been Governor of the State in 1915, he had protected Judge Irwin when charges were leveled against him.

Mortimer L. Littlepaugh

He works as a Counsel for the American Electric Power Company. He is discharged of his services in order to assign the post to Judge Irwin by way of a reward for favoring the Company. Unable to fight for justice, he commits suicide.

Miss Littlepaugh

The sister of Mortimer L. Littlepaugh, she gives Jack Burden a letter written by her brother which exposes both Governor Stanton and Judge Irwin.

Gummy Larson

A supporter of MacMurfee, he is given the contract for building the hospital by Willie Stark in order to ward off MacMurfeeís evil designs on the Governor.

Sibyl Frey

The girl who has sexual relationship with Tom Stark and gets pregnant. After the child is born, she allows Lucy Stark to adopt the child.

Marvin Frey

Sibylís father, who threatens Willie Stark with adverse action. Later, he and his daughter are sent away to Arkansas by MacMurfee.

Lavinia Mastern

Jack Burdenís grandmother.

Cass Mastern

The subject of Jack Burdenís doctoral thesis. He had got involved with a married woman whose husband commits suicide when he discovers about their relationship.

Gilbert Mastern

The older brother of Lavinia and Cass Mastern, he acts as their guardian. A shrewd businessman, he encourages his brother to work on a plantation and later, sends him to study further. His heir sends the letters of Cass Mastern to Jack Burden to aid him in writing his thesis.

Duncan Trice

A young banker in Lexington, Kentucky, he befriends Cass Mastern when he arrives in the city to pursue his education. He and his wife play host to Cass. Later, when he discovers Cassís affair with his wife, he commits suicide.

Annabelle Trice

Wife of Duncan Trice, she has an affair with Cass Mastern. After her husbandís death, she sells away the slave who finds out about her illicit relationship with Cass.

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