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Themes

Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece gives us politics from an insider's view. Jack Burden, ace historian and thorough "student of history," breaks down the seamy side of southern politics, while chronicling the rise and fall of Willie Stark. Over the course of the novel, Willie goes from being "cousin Willie with the Christmas tie," to being the most powerful man in the state. As a result of Jack's relationship with Willie, he also ends up discovering some dirty politics. Whatever you think of the different political tricks and maneuvers found in All the King's Men, by the end, you will definitely have learned a thing or two about politics.

Questions About Politics

  1. Is Willie sincere or is he just another corrupt politician? Would you vote for him? Why or why not?
  2. Does Willie remind you of any real life politicians, besides Huey Long?
  3. Speaking of Huey, how are he and Willie the same? How are they different?
  4. Jack says Sadie is talented in politics. Why? Do you agree with him? Do you think she would ever run for office or win an election? What kinds of people might vote for her?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Willie's political techniques are justified by the results.

Willie could have found a way to solve his political problems without resorting to blackmail.

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