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.