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01/12/2019

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It's been a dozen years since I read the book, and don't remember it all that well, so I won't have much to contribute here, but I will read the afterword to the corrected edition and try to give a synopsis or summary at some point.

I don't know that I'll have time to contribute very much. I'm not going to have much free time for the next few days. But I'll certainly be reading.

Well, it's not going anywhere. ;-)

There were just a couple of things I wanted to talk about. The first--and it may be so painfully obvious that only I think it is worth comment--is about the parallels between Cass Mastern and Willie Stark.

They start out with good intentions, but haven't been tempted.

They succumb to temptation.

They inadvertently cause the death of someone they love.

They repent.

They are killed.

So, this period of Jack's life is bracketed by these two stories, and I guess it is knowing Willie that helps him understand Cass.

And then, I have been thinking about Anne Stanton, and how she falls in love with Willie after hearing his speech. And his speech, and his manner when speaking remind me so much of Trump, and it struck me that the reason that Anne fell in love with Willie is the same reason that my very principled, rational friends actually like Trump. It seems to me to be the same phenomenon.

AMDG

That's interesting, because I had been thinking of the parallel with Mastern being Jack and the judge's suicide. But the parallel with Willie is more complete I guess, except for the suicides.

As for Anne, I have a less complimentary view. What you say may be part of it, but I think it also has to do with that lamentable female tendency to be attracted to powerful men.

Well, I don't know because what she says is, "Does he mean what he is saying?" Something like that anyway. This female is too lazy to walk across the room and look. It seems to me that she is attracted to the vision as much as the power.

Aside from the suicides both being suicides, I don't see much there that is the same. In the first case, it is the betrayed that kills himself and in the second, it is the betrayer.

AMDG

"attracted to the vision as much as the power"--I suppose that's often the case when the powerful man is a politician. At any rate I thought a lot less of Anne after that.

Jack betrays the judge, too. Both he and Mastern betray someone who then commits suicide. That seems like a pretty strong parallel. Was Mastern Jack's ancestor? I can't remember now.

Speaking of Anne: I found it just a bit unconvincing that she and Jack ended up marrying. I was happy to see it because I wanted them both to be happy. :-) But it may not have been the best choice dramatically. The story would have been more tragic.

It would probably be worthwhile for you to get a copy of the restored edition from the library and read Polk's afterword. Some of it touches on the relationship between Jack and Anne, and the fact that Jack is telling the story knowing that he married Anne, yet keeping that from the reader for dramatic purposes. Polk argues that some of the editors' changes actually work against the narrative in that regard.

Well, we think Mastern is Jack's Father's ancestor until we find out Burden isn't his father.

It seems to me that the whole story leads to Jack's learning about and coming to some sort of reconciliation with the past, and so their marriage seems fitting. I don't think the story is in the end tragic. It is just that tragic things happened along the way--as, of course, they do.

AMDG

I've been thinking, and the reason that Anne would not marry Jack was "...because of the way you are," or something very close to that. And I think what she meant was that he had no vision. There was nothing he really wanted to do, or that he thought was important. Willie, of course, was the exact opposite.

AMDG

Yes, I remember that. I thought it was partly "no vision" and partly just down to earth "what are you going to do to earn a living?" Though she said she didn't care, I don't think a senator's daughter would have done well in poverty.

I think Willie's story is tragic in a fairly pure sense.

Yes, but it's not really his story.

AMDG

I am about at the end of The Fathers. I assume that one was tragic enough for you.

AMDG

I don't remember it clearly enough to say. I remember it is not a happy book.

Let me be clearer about what I mean regarding Jack and Anne's marriage. I guess my comment sounds like I *wanted* it to be more tragic. That's not what I meant, I just meant that as a statement of fact about the difference it would have made. My literary reservation is that given the nature of the people and the events it didn't seem entirely convincing, it didn't seem to be what would most likely have happened. It struck me as just a bit of a stepping back from the harsh light that had been thrown on everyone throughout the story. But I could also make the argument that the deaths of Willie and the judge had such a shock effect that it caused a real change in Jack and Anne, and sort of threw them together in an almost desperate way.

When I said that about The Fathers being tragic enough for you, it was pretty much a joke, and had nothing to do with you wanting it to be tragic, but everything to do with the absolute darkness of the book.

I know what you were saying about Jack and Anne, I just don't see it that way. I see it as a natural conclusion to the change that occurs in Jack due to the things he has learned along the way, and from watching how Willie's life played out.

For one thing, there is the passage about his mother who he discovers really loved someone, when he always thought that she never loved anyone. That was a huge thing, and it in some way helped him to let himself really love a number of people, including Anne and Burden, Sr. And I think that his developing relationship with the politician who refused to work with Willie rather than compromise himself is a sign that he no longer is the person who was the way he was.

AMDG

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