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Barron's Booknotes-All The King's Men by Robert Penn Warren-Free Summary
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CHAPTER 6

SECTION ONE: THE HOSPITAL

In the last chapter, Jack presented the details of his seven months of research on the "Case of the Upright Judge." In this chapter he tells you about several other important events that took place during the same seven months.

For one thing, Willie's son, Tom Stark, wrecks his sports car. He had been drinking. Unfortunately, the young woman with him is permanently injured. Her father threatens to initiate a lawsuit. Willie makes threats of his own and offers the father a substantial sum of money. Thus, the matter is hushed up. Except on Willie's home front. Willie's wife, Lucy, is tired of seeing her son being treated like a hero. She sees Tom becoming selfish, lazy, and wild. And she blames Willie: "You'll be the ruin of him." Willie, however, enjoys watching Tom have the pleasures and opportunities that Willie himself never had as a young man.

Other events occur during the months of Jack's research. Anne Stanton receives state funds for the Children's Home, and Willie, on national radio broadcasts, attacks one of MacMurfee's men in the U.S. Congress. But for Jack, the most important events are those surrounding Willie's dream to build the biggest and best medical facility in the nation.

Planning the hospital has become Willie's chief concern. He visits some of the finest hospitals in the country. He studies blueprints and reads books on hospital management. The Willie Stark Hospital will be his gift to the rednecks of the state-a monument to his hidden idealistic nature. So, when Tiny Duffy approaches him one more time with his scheme to make Gummy Larson the hospital contractor, Willie flies into a rage. He tells Jack that he does not want his hospital defiled by any political dealings. Further, he is going to hire the best man in the country to run it-Dr. Adam Stanton.

The first section of this chapter reveals several sides of Willie's character, You see Willie the doting father, who refuses to temper Tom's wild impulses. Willie values the "manly" pursuit of being a football hero. Thus, he does not feel, as Lucy does, a need to insist that Tom lead a more disciplined life. Willie is blinded by his own vanity and by his need to compensate for his own unheroic youth.


You also see Willie the practical politician, who knows how to get things done and how to take the pressure off himself. He uses a variety of ways to do so, offering bribes, threatening to cut off a man's source of income (he did both with the injured woman's father), and publicly exposing a man's secret sins (as with MacMurfee's man in Washington).

But in addition you see Willie the idealist, who wants to be remembered in history for his good deeds. The Willie Stark Hospital is to be the symbol of his love for the common folk. And he cannot let swindlers like Tiny Duffy lay their dirty hands on what he sees as his greatest contribution to the good of the people. Hence, he wants an idealist to run his hospital. In a sense, then, Adam Stanton represents the part of Willie that is committed to ideals, to sacred human values.

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