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Barron's Booknotes-All The King's Men by Robert Penn Warren-Free Summary
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SECTION TWO: THE QUESTION

Jack takes his question about Judge Irwin's past with him on a friendly visit with Anne and Adam Stanton at their childhood home in Burden's Landing, the house the Stantons inherited from their father, the former governor. While Anne lights a fire, Jack watches her with admiration. She's happy and she's laughing. But he destroys her cheerful mood by suddenly asking: "Was Judge Irwin ever broke?"

Instead of answering his question, she tells Jack that she doesn't understand why he works for Willie, although, she confesses, she recently had lunch with him, hoping to convince him to divert some state money to the Children's Home. Jack is surprised that the daughter of the highly respected former governor would have lunch with the Boss. He warns her that such meetings could hurt her reputation. Could Jack be jealous? Anne defends her action by saying that she wants to do something important. Now, almost thirty-five and unmarried, she feels that she hasn't done enough with her life. Jack says that she could have married him, but marriage is not what she means.


When Adam enters, Jack repeats his question about the Judge. Adam remembers that when he was a child, he heard an argument about money between the Judge and his father.

Despite the serious note of Jack's question, the scene in the Stanton home is one of the most light-hearted in the novel. Still, Jack can't seem to have a good time simply for the sake of having a good time. He must analyze it: "Were we happy tonight because we were happy or because once, a long time back, we had been happy?" Why does Jack question everything?

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Barron's Booknotes-All The King's Men by Robert Penn Warren-Free Summary
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