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

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This chapter begins with Jack at his mother's home in Burden's Landing in 1933. He recalls how, in the past, his mother argued with him about working for Willie. There is a shift to when he was six years old and his father left. His mother's next partners are listed as the Tycoon, the Count and the Young Executive (Theodore).

Jack recalls memories of swimming with Anne and Adam Stanton when he was 17, in 1915 and of how he later went on to fall in love with Anne. He went to college and the army would not have him because of his 'bad feet'; Judge Irwin fought in the war.

This is followed by a description of a dinner party at the Judge's house last time Jack was home. Here, Patton, who is a guest, is critical of Willie as Governor and says he is giving the state away. The Judge reminds him that the Supreme Court has supported Willie on every issue raised. After the dinner, Jack argues with his mother and tells her he is not interested in money and neither is Willie. A description of how the Scholarly Attorney met his mother is then given.

After leaving Burden's Landing, Jack is summoned to Willie's office by Sadie. Jack witnesses him reprimanding Byram B. White, the State Auditor, and makes him resign for his 'nice little scheme to get rich'. It ensues that White is forced to do this as he is to be impeached. Hugh Miller, the Attorney General, offers his resignation in disgust as he sees that Willie is protecting White and himself with this measure. Willie tells Jack that Lucy will leave him now. Jack assumes this is because of his affair with Sadie, but Willie replies it is because he 'took care of Byram White'.

Willie's sexual transgressions are exposed to the readers as it is revealed that he had an affair with a 'Nordic Nymph' ice skater after only six months of being the Governor. Sadie shows her anger to Jack as she believes Willie has 'two-timed' her. She then reveals her poverty-stricken past of growing up in a shack and it is explained that her face is marked because of small pox; her brother died from this and their father was negligent of his children.

The narrative returns to politics and it is revealed that the threat of impeachment has moved from White to Willie. Willie is saved when Jack follows orders and takes a document to Lowdan ('the kingpin of the MacMurfee boys in the House') with signatures of men saying impeachment is unjustified. Lowdan says (rightly) that these men have been blackmailed into signing this, but also goes along with it.

Jack says he feels like 'God-Almighty' after dealing with Lowdan. He does not believe in his father's God, but feels like him when he sees the crowds waiting for Willie outside the Capitol building.

This chapter ends with the information that Lucy does not leave Willie 'after the impeachment problem' and Willie is voted in for a second term in 1934. She leaves him in 1935, but the public are not informed. She still features in photographs with him as with the trip to Mason City in 1936 in Chapter One.

In this chapter, it becomes increasingly obvious that Willie as Governor is involved in the use of blackmail and bribery to maintain his 'good' character and position. Jack is in league with this and helps him in this process, as with his dealings with Lowdan. Willie trusts Jack in a world of increased lies and disloyalty.

Their bond is strong for now as trust is reciprocated, but it is notable in this chapter how the power of being a Governor has altered Willie's relationship with his wife, Lucy. His illicit affairs with other women highlight how his morals have altered. This shift in beliefs is mirrored in Jack's involvement with blackmail. When Jack reveals that he feels like 'God Almighty', the narrative emphasizes the intoxicating effect of power.


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