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All the King's Men: Novel Summary: Chapter Ten

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After Willie's funeral, Jack returns to Burden's Landing once more because he cannot bear to stay in town and he wants to see Anne. On his return, Anne and Jack sit together not talking, but sometimes Jack reads to her.

Jack continues to wonder who it was that rang Adam to inform him of Anne and Willie's affair. Jack goes back to town and tries to contact Sadie to ask her about it. She is at a rest home called the Millett Sanatorium. Once he has found her, he asks if she knows the name of the man who called Adam. She says that it was Duffy and after being repeatedly questioned by Jack she finally answers that she knows because she told him to do it because she was jealous of Anne. She also informs him that Duffy congratulated her after Willie died.

Because Duffy had been the Lieutenant Governor whilst Willie was alive, he is now the temporary Governor. Jack wants to 'get' Duffy for the part he has played and visits him when Duffy asks to see him. Duffy offers him a job and says he can have 10%, even 20% more than Willie paid him. Jack refuses and tells him it is 'no sale'.

Jack receives a letter from Sadie three days later and she also sends him a statement of what lead to Willie's death. She also advises Jack against taking action. Duffy will not be re-elected and Anne will be dragged into the scandal. Jack also begins to feel guilty and this in turn stops him from seeking revenge.

Jack keeps his distance from people 'for quite a while' until he sees Sugar-Boy in the library. As Jack and Sugar-Boy talk, Jack realizes he can manipulate Sugar-Boy into killing Duffy and thus avenge the deaths of Willie and Adam. He almost tells him about Duffy's involvement, but then changes his mind.

In May, Jack visits Lucy and they discuss the death of Tom in February. This is the first time it is mentioned in the novel, but Jack already knew about it from the newspapers. Tom died of pneumonia. Lucy then relates how she has legally adopted Tom's baby (to Sibyl). As though to convince herself and Jack, she repeatedly says it is Tom's baby because it looks like him. She paid $6,000 for the baby and has called him Willie because he 'was a great man'. She says she has to believe that and Jack reveals he has come to believe it too.

The narrative shifts to Jack's return to Burden's Landing at the request of his mother. She is leaving the Young Executive and her home in the aftermath of Judge Irwin's death. She informs Jack that she is leaving for Reno and that she is giving her former lover the house. She also asks Jack what happened when he last saw the Judge. Jack lies and tells her they had a little argument about politics and he talked about his health.

With the departure of his mother, Jack begins to feel at peace with both her and himself. He visits Anne and tells her about his mother and that he has accepted the past. He apologises for not answering (or reading) her letter from six months ago and explains that Ellis Burden is not his father. He also explains that by accepting the past 'you might hope for the future'.

Jack explains to the readers how this has been 'the story of Willie Stark', and his story too. His view of the world has changed and he no longer believes in the Great Twitch. This is because he has seen too many people 'live and die' and now recognizes the concept of responsibility. A passing reference is then made to Hugh Miller and Jack suggests strongly that he will work with him, and is a future friend.

The novel ends with Jack explaining that he lives in his father's house (Judge Irwin's) and the truth has given him his past back. He is now married to Anne, and Ellis Burden (who he used to think of as his father) lives with them. Ellis is poorly and will not survive the winter and Jack relates how he will be ready to leave the house by then. It is heavily mortgaged and it transpires the Judge was poor at the time of his death. This is ironic as the Judge committed his only crime (involved in bribery) in order to save this house. Jack tried to make amends for his father and wanted to give Miss Littlepaugh money (she is the sister of Mortimer Littlepaugh), but she had died by this time.

Jack keeps this money, therefore, and uses it to give himself time to complete his book on Cass Mastern. He feels he can now come closer to understanding him. He also notes the irony of writing about Cass, who suffered for his conscience, in the Judge's house (who tried to forget about his misdemeanours). By the summer of this year, 1939, Jack believes they will have left the Judge's house and his book will be complete. He and Anne will leave Burden's Landing 'and go out into the convulsion of the world, out of history into history and the awful responsibility of Time.'

This final chapter is mainly concerned with tying up the various threads of the narrative. It not only offers complete closure, but it also explains in bald terms how Jack has developed and changed his view of the world. He no longer depends on his theory of the Great Twitch to explain life and understands the moral implications of responsibility and our connections with others.

It is clear that he finally appears to appreciate the spider web theory with which Cass Mastern is associated.

The novel comes close to offering a 'happy ever after' formula except the ironic twists are still in evidence. This is clearly on display when Jack ruminates over the irony of living in the Judge's house whilst he writes about the honorable Cass Mastern.


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