Study Guide

All the King's Men Visions of America

By Robert Penn Warren

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Visions of America

All the King's Men argues that the U.S.'s history of slavery continues to haunt generations of Americans and impacts Americans' view of themselves. The novel questions how a hopeful vision of America is possible with such a shameful past. It also provides an answer: truth. For all the potential risks and repercussions of truth telling, only truth can give us hope for a positive future of America. By exposing issues concerning the environment, labor, football, politics, education, welfare, journalism, history, and the skeletons in the closets of the antebellum South, All the King's Men interrogates American's practices and hopes to find a way to a better and truer vision of America.

Questions About Visions of America

  1. Does this book change your own vision of America? If so, how and why? If not, why not?
  2. Does this book provide a definition of the American dream? If so, what is it. Is the American dream an illusion, or is it something real? What does it mean to you?
  3. How does symbol of the highway mirage contribute to Jack's vision of America? What does the symbol of the train mean to Jack? To Ellis Burden? To Mrs. Murrell.
  4. Do you think Jack will eventually change his name to Jack Irwin? What do names and naming have to do with Jack's vision of America.

Chew on This

Transportation is a major aspect of the American dream in All the King's Men as we see by the repeated images of cars, roads, trains, and the like.

The Cass Burden story is the skeleton in the closet of the American dream.

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