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All the King's Men

All the King's Men


by Robert Penn Warren

Lucy Stark

Character Analysis

Lucy is Willie's first and only wife. They met when she was a schoolteacher, and she contributes to Willie's early inspiration to fight for the schoolhouse bond issue, an issue that ultimately pushes Willie toward stardom.

Lucy stands by Willie through all his drinking, all his women. She has the strength to peacefully and quietly move out to her sister's chicken ranch when she can't take it any longer, all the while keeping up (at least publicly) friendly relations with Willie.

But life with Willie takes its toll, especially in connection with their son, Tom. Lucy is afraid that Tom is going to self-destruct if something isn't done. And she's absolutely right, though she'd rather not be.

Lucy, like the other characters we encounter, finds an interesting way to cope with the pain. We say "interesting" because Lucy's coping mechanism encompasses a pretty odd gap in the narrative. We are talking about Willie Stark II, the son of Tom Stark and Sibyl Frey. (At least this is what Lucy comes to believe.) But wait a minute. What the heck happened to Sybil Frey? Lucy says she gave Sibyl six thousand dollars in exchange for adopting the baby. What is she going to tell the child about his actual mom and dad? Will she bury secrets? Has she done something (maybe with regard to Sibyl) that she won't want Willie Stark II to find out about? If we've learned anything from the story of Jack and his father, it's that these kinds of secrets can potentially lead to pain and suffering.