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Free Study Guide-All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren-Free Book Notes
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The last chapter dealt with the doctoral research of Jack Burden. This chapter deals with his research work on Irwin. After Willie Stark puts him on the job, Jack takes it up seriously. He decides to dig up the past of Judge Irwin. In order to do that, he meets all the people who could provide him information about the Judge. Thus he goes to meet the Scholarly Attorney. He meets him in a small room in a shabby locality.

The Attorney is living with a retired circus artist. Jack tries to get some information against Irwin from his father since he had been a good friend of the Judge. However, the Scholarly Attorney refuses to talk on the subject. So Jack goes over to meet Anne and Adam Stanton who had been well acquainted with Irwin. He inquires Anne about the financial status of the Judge in the past but Anne refuses to divulge any information on the subject. However, when he asks Adam to recollect any incident in the past, which threw light on Irwin’s strained financial situation, Adam informs him about one such incident. Burden is happy to have secured a clue. With this knowledge, he dwells into different possibilities, which could have forced Irwin to act in an improper manner. He becomes aware of the fact that Irwin had been broke in the past. He had married a rich girl but it had not improved his situation because the girl had squandered away all her wealth.

Thus Irwin had been forced to favor the American Electric Company who in turn had made him the Vice President of the Company. And Governor Stanton had shielded Irwin. This had led to Mortimer Littlepaugh’s losing his job and committing suicide in desperation. Jack gets hold of the letter giving evidence against Irwin and Stanton from Miss Littlepaugh. He thus succeeds in doing his research work.


This chapter brings the reader to the present and reveals a few unpleasant facts. The job given by Willie Stark is pursued earnestly by Jack Burden. A good student of history, he traces the past Judge Irwin systematically. He meets the different people who had been associated with Irwin in the past. Thus he meets the Scholarly Attorney who had been a good neighbor and friend of Irwin.

Jack Burden had been reluctant to meet his father earlier, when Anne had suggested such a meeting on humanitarian grounds. Now, when he wants information about Irwin, he decides to meet the old man. Jack is selfish and opportunistic. He has neither concern nor love for his father. His mind is blocked against his father and in his prejudice, he fails to appreciate his father’s concern for the unfortunate. When he hears the neighbors speak highly of Ellis Burden, he only voices his cynicism.

Self-interest not affection makes Jack visit his father. And when he meets him, he does not inquire about the welfare of his parent but asks him about Irwin and his financial status in the past. Ellis dodges the question because he wishes to forget about the unpleasant past. No amount of persuasion on Jack’s part gets the old man to talk on the subject. Jack thus leaves the scene disappointed.

The meeting between the father and the son is a failure materially, but it is a success emotionally. Jack fails to get proper answers from his father pertaining to his research on Irwin but succeeds in getting ignited emotionally. When he observes his father pampering George and feeding him with an ice-candy, he gets sentimental. He remembers the past when his father had fed him in a similar fashion. Unconsciously, he desires to be pampered by the old man. Thus in his longing for affection, he calls out the Scholarly Attorney as ‘Father.’ However, when Ellis Burden fails to hear the endearing word, Jack suppresses his emotion.

In his pursuit of truth, Jack proceeds to meet his friends, Anne and Adam. As Governor Stanton had been on intimate terms with Irwin, Burden hopes to get some information about the Judge from questioning his friends. However, Anne refuses to give him an answer and asks him not to probe into the life of a respectable man like Irwin. Adam, on the other hand, mentions about an incident in the past that hints at the financial constraints felt by the Judge. Adam’s answer makes Jack happy as it gives him a lead in his research.

Jack proves to be a dedicated student of his research as he catches on to the clues to reach to the truth. When he realizes that he does not have adequate information to charge Irwin, he dwells long on the subject and finds out about the Investments and career moves made by Irwin. In the process, he gets to know about the sudden demise Mortimer Littlepaugh who had been working as an officer in the American Electric Company. Earlier, Mortimer had been sacked from the company even though he had been a dedicated worker and in his place Irwin had been given the job. In order to gain more information on the subject, Jack goes to meet Miss Littlepaugh. When he fails to persuade her to talk, he bribes her and gets hold of the letter, which charges both Irwin and Stanton of impropriety. Jack thus succeeds in finding incriminating evidence against Irwin.

All the people Jack meets, in the process of doing his research, hesitate to talk on the subject because their conscience does not allow them to defame the character of a respectable man of society. However, Jack remains unaffected. He is happy to have completed the job assigned to him by the Boss. He is not bothered about maligning the character of a man who had been a good family friend. Jack is heartless and unconcerned about the consequences of his action.

Though the chapter concentrates on the movements of Jack, it gives us a glimpse into the life of Willie Stark. While Jack is seriously pursuing his work, Willie Stark remains happy watching his son’s progress in sports. He feels proud of his son’s interests and achievements. In contrast to Jack’s laid-back attitude, Willie Stark exhibits energy and enthusiasm which charges others into activity. This is the reason why Jack does everything that Willie commands him to do.

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