Study Guide

Cass Mastern in All the King's Men

By Robert Penn Warren

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Cass Mastern

Cass is the main character of the "story within a story" at the heart of All the King's Men. He is one of Ellis Burden's uncles. This narrative takes place in the decades leading up to the Civil War, and it contains some extremely chilling stories about slavery. Consequently, it casts a shadow of shame over the whole book. Jack constantly questions how this story relates to the other stories he's swimming in: the stories of Willie, he Judge, his mother, his father etc. Cass's is a bittersweet one of hope. Cass transforms from a man who owns slaves and runs a plantation to an abolitionist. Even though he doesn't see success in his lifetime, he is one of those people who tries hard to effect dramatic change. For more about Cass, see our discussion of "The Ring" under "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory."

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