All the King's Men All the King's Men question


87 views
Cass Mastern
Chamberk Chamberk Mar 18, 2012 10:02AM
So, third time through the book and I just passed the Cass Mastern chapter. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I mean, at first glimpse it's a fairly unrelated story that seems like a strange 50-page tangent. But as Jack says, the story of Cass Mastern and Jack Burden are the same story. To some degree I see it: Jack, Cass, and Willie are all 'good' men dragged down by politics/affairs/guilt/what-have-you. But was this tangent really necessary? What do you guys think?



Both did not believe they were directly affecting anyone else with their selfish actions. (Cass with the affair, and Jack with the dirt-digging for Willie).They refused to accept the fact they had responsibility, until a tragedy occurs. Cass realizes his mistakes and tries to fix things after Duncan's suicide. Jack doesn't realize it until after Anne sleeps with Willie, and everyone beings dying. He finally becomes like Cass once he gives up the notion of "The Great Twitch" and starts to assume responsibility for his actions that caused a lot of the problems.


Cass Mastern, the Tom Bombadil of All the King's Men? (cf. The Fellowship of the Ring).


how nice to see intelligent people discussing AKM in an era of urban fantasy banality
when i taught college i taught AKM 36 times in 12 years never a bad line, never a shallow character, none of his other books came close, so this book was golden from the start, if you're a writer, you know what i mean
rj ray


Chamberk wrote: "So, third time through the book and I just passed the Cass Mastern chapter. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I mean, at first glimpse it's a fairly unrelated story that seems like a strange 50-p..."

Chamberk wrote: "So, third time through the book and I just passed the Cass Mastern chapter. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I mean, at first glimpse it's a fairly unrelated story that seems like a strange 50-p..."


Yes I was also confused but unlike you I never really made the connection. The only relation I saw was the fact that Jack started his thesis based off of him


The great Robert Penn Warren gets far too little mention these days. I am glad to see this discussion!

16780129
Susy I agree!
Aug 22, 2013 01:29PM

This question,(Chamberk's,) has come up for me because I've been writing a book that's nothing but tangents, and I thought I should re-read this part of All The King's Men to see how he injects it into the main book.
The time for me to be doing this is now, as I'm in a re-writing phase. I was told by a publisher that there's too much going on, too many tangents. I'll keep in touch. Thanks for the question Chamberk, you nudged me good.


My first thought is that it is unrelated, but looking back it does, in a way, foreshawdow Jack's life, and help Jack learn about himself and where his life is headed. Sort of 'those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it.'

Totally agree though, while reading it, I found it to be merely an unrelated tangent. Now I look at it differently. I will have to read this book again to see if my thoughts change.


Reading this book several times over the years, more meanings appear every time. The Cass Mastern section, that seemed very much like a tangent to me once upon a time, now feels very relevant to the rest of the book. For example ... Cass going to war carrying a gun that he refused to shoot -- a "meaningless burden." And Jack toting from apartment to apartment the college thesis that he didn't know how to finish, like a part of himself that he can't leave behind but doesn't understand.

The author's choice of names for the characters and places keep suggesting deeper meanings, too. I'd never thought about Annabel's last name being Trice -- "a brief space of time." Now, I keep thinking how Cass Mastern's whole life changed (forgive the naughty pun, but I reckon the author intended it) "in a Trice."

And Annabel's husband being named Duncan, like the murdered king in "Macbeth," brings more thoughts about betrayal into the mix.

There also may be some parallels between Gilbert Mastern, the brother who seemed at home in any world, and Willie Stark. Lots to chew on!


Just picked this up the other day, haven't read it yet. Nice to see a discussion already happening!


This book nwas a little much to handle for an unexperienced reader. However i enjoyed the book and it kept me interested.


back to top

all discussions on this book | post a new topic


Books mentioned in this topic

All the King's Men (other topics)
All the King's Men (other topics)
The Fellowship of the Ring (other topics)