All the King's Men
All the King's Men
by Robert Penn Warren

Willie Stark Timeline and Summary

  • We first meet Willie in 1936, when he is already Governor.
  • Jack remembers driving with him to Mason City, Willie's hometown.
  • After a photo shoot and dinner with the family, Willie and Jack drive to Judge Irwin's, and Willie tries to get Irwin to revoke his endorsement of a rival political figure.
  • After the visit, he tells Jack to investigate Irwin's past to see if he can find something dirty on the Judge.
  • Jack backtracks in his memories and we learn some of Willie's history.
  • In 1922, Willie was Mason County Treasurer and was pushing a bond issue that would allow a new school to be built.
  • The bond passed, but the contract to build the school is going to a crooked contractor with a bad safety record, in spite of Willie's vocal opposition.
  • When there is a tragic accident involving the school fire escape as a direct result of the contractor's shoddy work, Willie becomes a local hero.
  • He studies law on his own, passes the bar, and practices law.
  • Soon, Tiny Duffy approaches him to run for Governor.
  • Unbeknownst to Willie, Tiny and his boss are just using him to make sure another guy doesn't win the race, and are not genuinely trying to get Willie elected.
  • When Willie learns the truth, he begins drinking, and begins to make speeches that reach the people.
  • He drops out of the race, but later runs on his own and wins.
  • As Governor, he does many good deeds, but blackmails many people in order to accomplish his ambitious goals.
  • Willie is far from faithful to his wife, Lucy. He has had affairs with Sadie Burke, Anne Stanton, an exotic skater, an another unnamed women.
  • He plans to build a free hospital for the people in his state. Blackmailers, who want the contract to build the hospital, approach him with the news that Tom Stark might have gotten a girl pregnant.
  • When all his attempts at reverse blackmail fail, he gives the blackmailers the contract to save Tom from the scandal.
  • When Tom is permanently paralyzed in a football accident, Willie takes back the contract.
  • As a result, Tiny Duffy makes a phone call Adam Stanton, brilliant surgeon, and Willie's pick for hospital director. (We learn later that Tiny had his own ulterior motives.)
  • During the call Tiny informs Adam that Willie and Adam's sister Anne have been having an affair, and that this is the only reason Adam got the directorship.
  • He also tells Adam that Willie is done with Anne now, and that he will take away Adam's position.
  • This causes Adam to shoot Willie, who dies soon after when his wounds become infected.

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