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All the King's Men

All the King's Men

by Robert Penn Warren

Religion Theme

All the King's Men doesn't delve too deeply into religion, but it does look at the role of religious rhetoric in politics, and at some other ways people use religion as a tool. Not to say that the novel is devoid of a more "genuine" religious experience. Our narrator, for example, even invents his own sort of religion (called the Great Twitch), which lets him pretend that nothing in the world really matters. Another character finds comfort in a more traditional belief in the God. Whatever your views on religion, the religious aspects of this novel should at least get you thinking.

Questions About Religion

  1. Is Willie religious? If so, what is his religion? If not, how do you know.
  2. Does Lucy undergo a religious conversion in the novel? If so, what is the nature of it? If not, how have her religious views changed.
  3. We argue that the Great Twitch is a kind of religion. Do you agree with us? Why or why not?
  4. Is Ellis Burden a religious fanatic? Does Jack continue to believe that he is at the end of the story?
  5. Why does Jack constantly compare Willie to Christ in the early days?
  6. Why does Willie compare himself to Christ in his speeches? Would this strategy work with any contemporary audience? If so, which ones?

Chew on This

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

Through Jack Burden and Willie's constituents, All the King's Men shows how religion is used to justify bad behavior.

Ellis Burden shows us how religion is used to cope with trauma.

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