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All the King's Men

All the King's Men

by Robert Penn Warren

Analysis: Tone

Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?

Reverently, Cynically, and Hopefully Memorial

From the first page we get the sense that we are about to get wrapped up in something of sweeping importance, or at least in something that is sweepingly important to Jack. You could even say he worships his memories, and brings them to life. He treats facts delicately, never assuming, but always getting proof. This guy won't rest until all layers of the past are peeled back, or at least as many layers as possible. Jack's adventures in memory and history imply that America was founded on slavery and racism. As a result, this country and everybody in it is cracked at the foundation. So much of what he says is tinged with cynicism, sarcasm, and bitter irony. Yet, the very act of rooting around in the past to expose truth is a hopeful act, an act of trust in the truth to heal and cure a broken world. In the final passages his cynicism gives way to hope.

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