All The King's Men

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The novel’s narrator, Jack Burden comes from a wealthy and influential Louisiana family—he was born and raised in a town called Burden’s Landing. Jack writes the account included in All the King’s Men ostensibly in an attempt to tell the story of Willie Stark’s rise and fall as governor of the state, but he finds himself telling more and more of his own life’s story in an attempt to tell Willie’s. Jack’s two best friends, Anne and Adam Stanton, also take on important roles in Willie’s story, as Anne becomes Willie’s mistress (and, much later, Jack’s wife), and Adam is spurred to kill Willie for his affair with Anne.

Jack Burden Quotes in All The King's Men

The All The King's Men quotes below are all either spoken by Jack Burden or refer to Jack Burden. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harvest Books edition of All The King's Men published in 2006.
Chapter 1 Quotes

The beauty about Tiny is that nobody can trust him and you know it. You get somebody somebody can trust maybe, and you got to sit up nights worrying whether you are the somebody. You get Tiny, and you can get a night’s sleep. All you got to do is keep the albumen scared out of his urine.

Related Characters: Willie “The Boss” Stark (speaker), Jack Burden, Tiny Duffy
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

Willie Stark's philosophy of politics is at once simple and infinitely complex. On the one hand, he believes that, to manipulate people, you must flatter them, cajole them, be kind to them, give them things, tell them what they want to hear. But you must also strike the fear of God into them - you must cause them to believe that you are the powerful one, and that all they can do is listen.

With Duffy, Stark first approached cautiously. Then he realized Duffy (Tiny) was not a trustworthy man, nor a loyal man - that he would do whatever it took to remain viable in a political system prone to change, and to make more money for himself. When Stark noticed this, as in the quote, he was relieved - he saw that Tiny could be handled through a combination of kindness and the instilling of fear. This political philosophy Stark will put into practice throughout the novel, often to startlingly positive (or persuasive) effect. 

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We would come into Burden’s Landing by the new boulevard by the bay. The air would smell salty, with maybe a taint of the fishy, sad, sweet smell of the tidelands to it, but fresh nevertheless. It would be nearly midnight then, and the lights would be off in the three blocks of down-town . . . .

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker)
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

Burden's Landing is a town of real importance to Jack - as the name suggests, it is the "seat," historically, of his own family, which for a long time has wielded real clout in Louisiana politics. When Burden and Willie go back to Burden's Landing, they are more or less going back in time, to a place where politics is based on personal relationships.

Burden's view of Burden's Landing is a fundamentally romantic one. He sees it in its natural beauty, as a place of childhood and innocence. He sees it, too, as a place where he fell in love for the first time - and it is forever linked both to that love, which will be developed later in the novel, and to the ultimate frustration of it, which will cause Jack many years of heartache after the fact. For the novel to begin with this nighttime drive to Burden's Landing is to signal, here, that the Landing is perhaps the most important, the most emotionally rich and complex, of the novel's many locales. 

Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something.

Related Characters: Willie “The Boss” Stark (speaker), Jack Burden, Judge Irwin
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

Willie has come down to Burden's Landing on a political mission - and in order to achieve what he desires, he must put pressure on Judge Irwin. Jack believes that Irwin cannot be pressured - Jack has known Irwin all his life, and he flinches at the thought of trading in on that relationship in order to push a political agenda.

But Willie has no such worry about the trip. Indeed, he relies on Jack's deep and sustained relationships with the political "old guard" of Louisiana. Without them, Willie would be just another upstart, a man trying, as best he can, to make his way in Southern politics without a name for himself. When Willie argues that dirt can be "dug up" on anyone, he means that all mean are fallible, that all have made mistakes in the past - and that these mistakes can, and should, be used for political leverage. This kind of politics is relatively new to Jack, even though he knows it's the way that Willie often plays the game. 

Chapter 2 Quotes

About two years after [the schoolhouse] was built, it happened. There was a fire drill, and all the kids on the top floors started to use the fire escapes. . . . Because the little kids held up the traffic, the fire escape and the iron platform at the top got packet with kids. Well, some of the brickwork gave and the bolts and bars holding the contraption to the wall pulled loose and the whole thing fell away, spraying kids in all directions.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Willie “The Boss” Stark
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Jack attempts to describe how, exactly, Willie came to power. Willie did so in part by pushing for a county bond to establish a new, higher quality schoolhouse. The corrupt county politicians agree to build the school, but bid cheaply, and the school eventually falls apart, killing many children inside. What's most striking about this moment, apart from its tragedy, is the means by which Willie uses that tragedy to further his own ends. He makes it plain that he has always opposed these cheap bricks, that he was on the side of the people even though the people didn't know he was on their side - that, in other words, he was, and always has been, a populist champion. This will become Willie's political identity, and he will develop it throughout the novel, even as he ascends to the role of governor in the state. Jack, for his part, recognizes both the sincerity of Willie's desire to help the people, and the way this desire also helps Willie professionally. 

I don’t know whether Willie meant to do it. But anyway, he did it. He didn’t exactly shove Duffy off the platform. He just started Duffy doing a dance along the edge, a kind of delicate, feather-toed, bemused, slow-motion adagio accompanied by arms pinwheeling around a face which was like a surprised custard pie with a hole scooped in the middle of the meringue . . . .

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Willie “The Boss” Stark, Tiny Duffy
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

What is more important than Willie's "shove" of Duffy from the platform stage is the political gumption that underlies it. Willie has realized that he is a "stooge" candidate for governor at this point in his career. He has been nominated by the Democratic machine in order to split the vote with another candidate - such that the will of the party bosses prevails. When Stark realizes this is the case, he becomes enraged, and, with great shrewdness, realizes there are only two things he can do. On the one hand, he could back down and meekly do what the party says. On the other, he could lash out, show that the party is trying to subvert the democratic process - and hope that the voters will respond positively to this kind of populist message. It is a rulebook that Willie will play by for his entire political career, and it will make him, for a time, into the most powerful man in the state. 

Chapter 3 Quotes

The sky was darker now, with a purplish, greenish cast. The color of a turning grape. But it still looked high, with worlds of air under it. A gull crossed, very high, directly above me. Against the sky it was whiter even than the sail had been. It passed clear across all the sky I could see. I wondered if Anne had seen the gull.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker)
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

Burden's relationship to Burden's Landing is one of pure nostalgia. He associates that place with a freer, simpler time in his life - with a world where political influence and powerful families were one (even when that influence wasn't used for the good of the many). And, of course, he thinks of Anne when he thinks of his hometown - the "girl who got away," the woman with whom he thought he was going to spend his life.

Jack's connection to the southern, marine part of Louisiana is in contrast to Willie's connection to the northern, Arkansas-like portion of the state, which is far more rural, and less defined by families of long standing and great wealth. If Burden's Landing represents homecoming and power for Jack - power that he sometimes courts and sometimes dismisses - it represents for Willie a concentration of power that is to be fought with and superseded if he is to maintain his influence. 

If the government of this state for quite a long time back had been doing anything for the folks in it, would Stark have been able to get out there with his bare hands and bust the boys? And would he be having to make so many short cuts to get something done to make up for the time lost all these years . . . ?

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Willie “The Boss” Stark, Judge Irwin, Jack’s Mother, Mr. and Mrs. Patton
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:

Jack Burden defends Willie's actions as Governor to the Irwins and the Pattons, families that represent some of the oldest and most powerful interests in the state - the bulwarks of Burden's Landing and of southern Louisiana more broadly. Jack is caught between two worlds. On the one hand, he hints that he recognizes the crudeness of Willie's methods, his populism, and his attempts to woo voters by catering to their emotions rather than to their rational minds. But Jack also sees that Willie is invested in real change, and that he wants to make the state better. Those in power, like the Irwins and Pattons, who have been in power for a long time, do not necessarily want to change the status quo to help those less fortunate. Indeed, for them the status quo is what makes them powerful in the first place. And even as Jack dines with and socializes with these families, he sees how limited their worldview is. 

Chapter 4 Quotes

Jack Burden came into possession of the papers from the grandson of Gilbert Mastern. When the time came for him to select a subject for his dissertation for his Ph.D., his professor suggested that he edit the journal and letters of Cass Mastern, and write a biographical essay . . . .

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Cass Mastern
Page Number: 244
Explanation and Analysis:

Before Jack was a reporter and a political operative for Willie Stark, he was a graduate student. His willingness to dig down into the muck of historical records and official documents is one of his great strengths as a political employee later in life - and this is why, or at least part of why, Jack brings up Cass Mastern. 

But Jack also seems to find something simply compelling about Cass as a human being. Through the veil of the past, Jack believes he shares some of Cass's star-crossed luck. Jack's ability to identify with those from the past - indeed, his desire to live in the past - is one of his notable characteristics, and is a clear contrast to Willie, for whom there is only forward motion, more planning, and future great accomplishment. Jack's involvement with the past is in no sense more pronounced, indeed, than when he speaks to Anne, with whom he is still in love, even though they are now friends. 

But now and then Duncan Trice had to be out of town on business, and on those occasions Cass would be admitted, late at night, to the house . . . so he actually lay in the very bed belonging to Duncan Trice.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Cass Mastern, Duncan Trice
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:

Duncan Trice took Cass "under his wing," and showed him how to behave as a Southern gentleman should. Jack discovers this in the letters, and sees, too, that Cass falls in love with Duncan's wife, Annabelle. 

Here the patterning of the novel turns inward, as Jack realizes, although does not state explicitly, that Cass, the subject of his doctoral dissertation, falls in love with an "Anna" just as Jack falls in love with Anne. And it later is revealed that Anne has been having an affair with Willie Stark, meaning that Jack, like Cass, is the "other man."

Thus Penn Warren creates what is called a "mise en abyme," or a pattern of repeated narratives within the text. Jack looks into the past and finds, despite himself, his own predicament - although at the time of his research, he does not know that he will be working for Willie, nor that Anne will wind up having a romantic affair with him. 

. . . the day came when Jack Burden sat down at the pine table and realized that he did not know Cass Mastern. He did not have to know Cass Mastern to get the degree; he only had to know the facts about Cass Mastern’s world. But without knowing Cass Mastern, he could not put down the facts about Cass Mastern’s world.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Cass Mastern
Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:

As in his descriptions of Burden's Landing, Jack is a romantic - for good and for ill. His sensibility allows him to fall quickly and deeply in love with ideas, with stories, with people. He takes a great deal of enjoyment in his graduate work, and throughout this chapter, he demonstrates to the reader just how skilled he is as a researcher, how willing he was to devote a chunk of his life to reaching back into the archives and describing the past.

But, as this passage indicates, he was not simply interested in describing the past - he wanted to find out the "truth" of Cass Mastern's story. And because he could not discover that truth - though he did not exactly know what the truth might mean - he abandoned the project, never getting his doctorate. This is the flip side of Jack's romanticism - it causes him to take up projects passionately, but it causes him to abandon them just as absolutely when he no longer cares for them or gives them up as impossible. 

Chapter 5 Quotes

Then it was another day, and I set out to dig up the dead cat, to excavate the maggot from the cheese, to locate the canker in the rose, to find the deceased fly among the raisins in the rice pudding.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Judge Irwin
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:

The novel has now looped back to its initial story - that of the meeting between Willie, Jack, and Judge Irwin, in the middle of the night in Burden's Landing. Willie needs Irwin to work with him, and Irwin is not inclined to do so; thus Willie asks Jack to find "dirt" on Irwin, as Jack describes in this passage, using an array of metaphors. This is, in part, Jack's theatrical and descriptive flourish - he was a doctoral student, after all, and has a literary turn of mind.

But it also shows the bind that Jack is in. On the one hand, he wants to help his boss - but on the other, he realizes he must subvert one of the deepest friendships he has, with a man who mentored him in his youth. Jack is being asked to choose, effectively, between his past and his present (and future) - and he sides with Willie. 

Chapter 6 Quotes

The Friend of Your Youth is the only friend you will ever have, for he does not really see you. He sees in his mind a face which does not exist any more . . . .

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Adam Stanton
Page Number: 352
Explanation and Analysis:

Jack and Adam, as Jack recounts, were good friends long ago - as close as brothers, especially considering the fact that Jack was in love with Anne Stanton, Adam's sister. Adam is a doctor who does not make much money, who thinks highly of his professional calling, and has vowed to do good for the region - and who believes that Jack's association with Willie is a tarnish on Jack's reputation.

Here, Jack argues that his friendship with Adam, though it is always present in their conversations, has vanished - that it is only the ghost of that friendship that is now apparent. Jack realizes that this feeling also characterizes his relationship with Anne, and that their previous intimacy is now only the faint outline of that intimacy. Jack wonders whether he and Adam can ever become close enough again to speak honestly with one another - if not as they did in the past, then at least in some approximation of it. 

Chapter 7 Quotes

I had had a puncture in the morning and so didn’t hit Long Beach till about evening. I drank a milk shake, bought a bottle of bourbon, and went up to my room. I hadn’t had a drop the whole trip. I hadn’t wanted a drop. I hadn’t wanted anything, except the hum of the motor and the lull of the car and I had had that.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker)
Related Symbols: Alcohol (“Likker”)
Page Number: 407
Explanation and Analysis:

Jack describes these periods of his life - which are shocks, panic attacks, and instances of major depression all wrapped into one - as Great Sleeps. Anne's affair with Stark prompts another such Big Sleep, and the only thing that can assuage him is a trip to Los Angeles, to the water -  a trip that, at the time Jack undertakes it, would require many days.

Jack feels he must see the entire sweep of the western United States to rid himself of the idea of Anne with another man. This, although he knows that Anne no longer loves him, and that their relationship will not work - that he and Anne exist together only in the past, not in the present or the future. Yet the idea of Anne with Willie is a betrayal - but of what, Jack is not quite sure. Nevertheless, it prompts him to seek solitude in a faraway place and solace in alcohol.

Don’t be silly . . . and don’t call me Jackie-Bird.
But you are Jackie-bird . . . .
Don’t you love me?
I love Jackie-Bird; poor Jackie-Bird.
God damn it, don’t you love me?
Yes . . . I do.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Anne Stanton (speaker)
Page Number: 436
Explanation and Analysis:

The revelation of Anne's affair with Willie prompts for Jack the memories of their relationship - of the times they shared primarily in Burden's Landing. Anne and Jack are in love with one another, yet their relationship carries within it a strain, perhaps the strain of expectations, since the two of them spent so much time together from a young age.

When Jack and Anne go to college, a separation begins that will wind up running through their relationship, and causing it to crumble. But Jack can point to no single event - other than the night in which they attempt to have sex, but do not have time before Anne's parents return - that signals their demise as a couple. Instead, they have grown apart just as they had grown up together. And it is this, the fact that their love did not last, that is harshest for Jack. It is this that prompts so much anxious revulsion at the idea of Anne and Willie together. 

Chapter 8 Quotes

I did fine until they started the burning. For taking out the chunks of brain they use an electric gadget which is nothing but a little metal rod . . . and there is some smoke and quite a lot of odor . . . .

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker)
Page Number: 479
Explanation and Analysis:

Burden, when he is back from his trip to California, meets with Adam and attempts to take up where he left off - serving Willie (Jack and Willie do not discuss Anne). Jack is shocked by Adam's use of a full lobotomy to help a schizophrenic man. Jack considers this procedure bizarre and inhumane, despite Adam's genuine desire to help the patient. And afterward, Jack tells Adam to "baptize" the man, as he is born again after the surgery.

Thus Jack conflates the human mind, and the way it changes over time, with a religious idea, that of baptism and spiritual rebirth. Of course, Jack has just returned from his own "rebirth," although it is not clear how his life has changed after the trip to Los Angeles - only that he can never see Anne and Willie the same way again, after finding out about their affair. 

What would it cost? Well, MacMurfee was thinking he might run for Senator . . . so that was it.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Harrison and MacMurfee
Page Number: 499
Explanation and Analysis:

The revelation of this quote causes Willie to activate his long-held plan of using his "dirt" on Judge Irwin. MacMurfee is in Irwin's pocket, and MacMurfee now thinks that, having learned that Willie's son has gotten a girl pregnant, he (MacMurfee) can use this as leverage to gain a senate seat in Louisiana, the same seat Willie has had his eye on for years.

Willie, of course, is not going to allow MacMurfee's plan to unfold, and he therefore relies on Jack to go to Burden's Landing and talk to Irwin. It is blackmail of a third party to defeat blackmail against himself, and Willie knows that it is entirely personal - that MacMurfee wants to use a detail from Willie's son's life to derail Willie's career. Thus Willie, who believes that all political battles are personal ones, has no problem sullying Irwin's reputation to keep MacMurfee from sullying his own. 

Chapter 9 Quotes

God damn it, so the bastard crawled out on me.
I didn’t say anything.
I didn’t tell you to scare him to death, I just told you to scare him.
He wasn’t scared.
What the hell did he do it for then?

Related Characters: Willie “The Boss” Stark (speaker), Jack Burden (speaker), Judge Irwin
Page Number: 535
Explanation and Analysis:

Irwin's suicide, which mirrors Littlepaugh's suicide years before in the American Electric case, is a double blow for Jack. First, it is an indicator of what can go wrong when one person tries to utterly ruin another - that second person always has the horrible option of ending his or her life, thus stopping the power dynamic of blackmail. And, even more importantly, Irwin's act causes Jack's mother to reveal that Jack is really Irwin's son - that Jack was the child, out of a wedlock, of a romantic union between his own mother and Judge Irwin.

This latter piece of news is almost too much for Jack to bear. For not only does he learn that his own father, the Scholarly Attorney, is not his biological father - he learns that he has caused his biological father to kill himself, all for political gain for Willie Stark, not even for Jack Burden. 

He died the next morning, just about day. There was a hell of a big funeral. The city was jam-packed with people, all kinds of people . . . people who had never been on pavement before.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Willie “The Boss” Stark
Page Number: 603
Explanation and Analysis:

The people of Louisiana adore Willie. He was their champion all his life, a populist hero for the state, who made his career early on by defying large-scale political interests and the moneyed classes that ruled Louisiana. Willie dared to put the interests of the people first, and to use them to gain political power.

That, at least, is the public story. In private, however, and as the novel demonstrates, Willie was a populist as much for his own advancement as for the sake of the people's. He saw that he could do good by promising to be one of the people, not a special interest - yet he became so powerful that no one, he felt, could touch him. And Willie, by the end of his life, believed that any tactic was fair to pursue for political purposes - any kind of blackmail, any kind of illicit or behind-the-scenes leverage. It is this second part of his political life that the people on the sidewalks did not see, and Jack knows this. 

Chapter 10 Quotes

Oh . . . and I killed Willie. I killed him.
Yes.
Oh God . . .

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Sadie Burke (speaker), Willie “The Boss” Stark
Page Number: 618
Explanation and Analysis:

Jack realizes that Sadie leaked the information to Adam that Willie and Anne were having an affair, because Sadie at least partially knew that Adam would be so enraged to hear it that he would do anything to stop Willie. Sadie did this because she loved Willie, after having served him loyally for years, and she couldn't bear the thought of Anne being with him. Duffy, Willie's operative, also participated in this leveraging of behind-the-scenes information, since Duffy, too, knew that he could destroy Willie this way - and Duffy had his eyes on bigger payoffs and greater office than he could achieve with Willie in power.

Thus Willie was undone by his own affair with Anne, but moreover undone by those who promised to be loyal to him. Sadie and Duffy used Willie's own tactics against him, and Sadie, at this point in the novel, is in a mental institution, having suffered a breakdown; she recognizes that she has suffered for Willie's murder, though perhaps not as much as Willie has. 

. . . and soon we shall go out of the house and go into the convulsion of the world, out of history into history and the awful responsibility of Time.

Related Characters: Jack Burden (speaker), Anne Stanton
Page Number: 661
Explanation and Analysis:

For Jack, the events of the novel work on two planes. On one, they are the events of one man's political life, his rise and his fall, his idealism, his populism, and eventually a demise predicated on the kinds of hard-nosed techniques he himself used to attain and keep power. Jack sees Willie's life as a powerful example of how governing in America works, how "democracy" functions - how the power of a personality can make the power of a man.

But Jack also sees Willie's life as pointing to larger themes - the changes in Southern society that lead to new populist leaders, and that dismantle the old ways of doing things in the moneyed parts of the state. Willie is also connected to the idea that love can be wrapped up in power, and loyalty inherent in disloyalty - that perhaps there is no such thing as loyalty at all. Jack, ever the romantic and idealist, is deeply dismayed at what he has seen, and wonders what the remainder of his life will look like. Jack and Anne are now together, and as they take care of the Scholarly Attorney, they try to knit together a life that has, over time, become complex and sad, a part of the long, complex, and often sad history of that part of the United States. 

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Jack Burden Character Timeline in All The King's Men

The timeline below shows where the character Jack Burden appears in All The King's Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...himself, formally, to the table, and we find out that the narrator’s last name is Burden. Willie shakes Burden’s hand. The narrative shifts back to the 1930s, when Burden is working... (full context)
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Burden switches back to 1922. Burden recalls Willie being offered a beer by Duffy, and Willie... (full context)
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Burden goes on to recall the remainder of the four men’s conversation, that day in 1922,... (full context)
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The Boss tells Burden, back in the car in 1936, that Burden should find a good lawyer, an “Abe... (full context)
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...up next to the house where Willie grew up, a farmhouse in rural Mason County. Burden remarks that Willie never really had the house repainted or renovated, not in any obvious... (full context)
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...farmer, skinny and wrinkled and taciturn, emerges from the house and welcomes, quietly, Willie, Lucy, Jack, and Duffy. After sitting in the parlor for a moment, the next car arrives, with... (full context)
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...where he had studied for the law exam when he was a much younger man. Burden, whose first name has been revealed to be Jack, walks outside, through the farm, and... (full context)
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Sadie rushes out to join Burden and Willie out back, by the fence. She has something to tell Willie, but is... (full context)
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Burden leaves Sadie and Willie, who has taken this news poorly, and goes off to watch... (full context)
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Burden, Willie, and Sugar-Boy get into the Cadillac, and the Boss announces that they will be... (full context)
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Willie reveals to the reader, by speaking to Jack, that Jack grew up in Burden’s Landing, that the Burden name there is his family’s... (full context)
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The Boss tells Jack to go up to the door and knock for Judge Irwin, who is in bed... (full context)
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The Boss and Irwin stare each other down for a long moment, and Jack wonders what he is doing there—he mutters to himself that both of them, his old... (full context)
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...blackmail is too much for Irwin, who kicks Willie out of his house. Willie calls Jack to follow him, and the Judge and Jack have a terse exchange, wherein the Judge... (full context)
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...passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud,” meaning that Jack will be able to find something on the Judge. Burden rounds out the chapter by... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Burden begins this chapter by stating that, as of his writing (of, presumably, the account that... (full context)
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Burden hangs out at an outdoor meeting place in Mason City, in 1922, where a group... (full context)
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Burden meets a sheriff and Dolph Pillsbury, chairman of the board of county commissioners in Mason... (full context)
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Burden visits Willie, whose office happens to be at the other end of a long hallway... (full context)
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Burden then relates to the reader the story Willie told him long ago, in 1922, which,... (full context)
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...other ways, by printing out leaflets and distributing them on street corners in Mason County. Burden moves ahead in time to describe what happens to Willie between 1922 and 1925. After... (full context)
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Burden falls out of touch with Willie again for those three years between 1922 and 1925,... (full context)
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...overnight, the most popular political figure in Mason City, capable of unseating any rival, in Burden’s telling. Then Willie was tapped to run in the Democratic state primary for Governor, based... (full context)
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Burden states that Willie, during this 1926 election, is a lawyer—and that he had passed the... (full context)
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Now, in 1926, Burden is following Willie’s campaign for Governor as a reporter for the Chronicle, and because he... (full context)
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One day during the campaign, Burden is at a coffee shop in a small town and is joined by Sadie Burke,... (full context)
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In Upton, Willie walks into Burden’s hotel room and admits, glumly, that his campaign is going poorly, although he is not... (full context)
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Willie becomes extremely upset and asks Burden if it’s true that he’s been framed, and that his campaign is a joke. Burden... (full context)
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In a bit of a fugue, before narrating what happens next, Burden admits that he fell in love with Sadie a little bit that night, and that... (full context)
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...Stark administration and then Lt. Governor, and Sadie becomes one of Willie’s closest advisers. Meanwhile, Burden is kicked out of his job at the newspaper for supporting Stark in the 1930... (full context)
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Burden then reports on time he spends with two childhood friends in 1930, just after Willie’s... (full context)
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...up at dinner, however, and part as friends, and in the next few days—again, in 1930—Jack is called by Sadie Burke, working for Governor Stark, saying that Stark would like to... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Burden then shifts the narrative to a visit home to his mother, in Burden’s Landing, in... (full context)
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Theodore enters, and Burden is superficially polite though curt with him. As Jack speaks to his mother about his... (full context)
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...is nice, docile, barely out of his thirties, and in general a quiet companion for Jack’s mother. Back in the present moment, Jack goes to sleep and wakes up the next... (full context)
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The picnic took place in 1915, just before Jack was to go off to the State University for college—and as the three ate, then... (full context)
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Jack moves, still while walking to Irwin’s house, from a memory of the picnic to a... (full context)
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It turns out that Jack, back from his memories and now, again, in the present moment, has been walking to... (full context)
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...the older people at the gathering have brought her there to fix her up with Jack—Dumonde speaks a little of hearing that Jack works for the Governor, and prompts Jack to... (full context)
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...he (Irwin) is worried that Willie wants too much reform for the state too quickly—but Jack speaks up and implicitly critiques the families of Burden’s Landing, many of whom had been... (full context)
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The next day, Jack’s mother is upset that Jack had spoken so sharply at the dinner last night, and... (full context)
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On his drive back to Baton Rouge, Jack daydreams about the town in which his mother and father met, in rural Arkansas, where... (full context)
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Jack arrives at Willie’s office in the capital and finds out immediately that a man named... (full context)
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...agreed to serve in the administration, as he explains in the office to Willie and Jack, with the idea that he, Miller, would not be forced to do anything illegal in... (full context)
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After asking Jack whether he has done the right thing—protecting Byram and allowing Miller to resign—Jack admits that... (full context)
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Jack then recalls another episode in Willie’s life, this time his personal life, during his time... (full context)
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Jack points out that Willie has really cheated on his wife, and that he is only... (full context)
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Jack then reveals that, after a long spate of Willie’s infidelities, Lucy Stark finally decides to... (full context)
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This period of impeachment, which lasts about two weeks, is described as a whirlwind by Burden. No one in the office seems the sleep the entire time; Willie travels the state... (full context)
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...outside the capitol building, where Willie is slated to give a speech later that evening. Burden observes the crowd from out a window in his office in the capitol. Burden recalls... (full context)
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Burden presented, that previous night, a sheet of paper with signatures from a significant number of... (full context)
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As Burden looks out at the crowd that next day, he thinks of conversations he has had... (full context)
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Jack then goes out and stands with Adam and Anne, who have joined him to see... (full context)
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Burden then closes the chapter by stating that Lucy did wind up leaving Willie, more or... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Burden begins the chapter by looping back to his initial conversation with Irwin, along with Willie,... (full context)
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Burden lived with two graduate students, one “drunk and unlucky and stupid,” the other “drunk and... (full context)
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The remainder of the chapter is Burden’s account of this family story, which was to form the basis of his dissertation. Cass... (full context)
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The grandson of Gilbert Mastern, whom Jack did not know personally, had decided that, since Jack had an interest in history and... (full context)
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The picture of Cass, an early and smudged photo, Jack finds haunting—it is Cass in his Confederate soldier’s uniform, with his eyes “burning black” in... (full context)
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But Burden discovers, again through Cass’s journal, that Cass also learned to live a life of vice... (full context)
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Such was the material Jack was to craft into a dissertation for his doctorate. But Jack realized that, despite knowing... (full context)
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This deep depression, similar to the “Big Sleep” Jack underwent just after being fired from the reporter job, and before being hired by Willie,... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Burden returns the narrative to what now appears its central event: the nighttime conversation with Irwin,... (full context)
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Jack leaves Mason City the next day and heads to a bar in Baton Rouge, where... (full context)
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Burden decides to go to his father, the Scholarly Attorney, in Baton Rouge in order to... (full context)
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On the walk up to the squalid apartment where his father lives, Burden hears his father reference a man named George—Burden asks who George is, and his father... (full context)
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Burden’s father says that George was once a trapeze artist whose wife died during their act,... (full context)
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But on his way down the stairs, Burden realizes that his father became upset because he does, in all likelihood, know some piece... (full context)
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...Lucy still wishes to keep Tom from playing football, believing it is too dangerous, and Jack, though he is caught up in the excitement of the game, realizes he must drive... (full context)
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Before Adam is set to arrive at the Stanton home, Burden is there with Anne, and though they horse around and build a fire, before long... (full context)
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...in, bringing his characteristic good cheer, and he doesn’t seem to sense that Anne and Jack have just had an argument. After welcoming Adam back to Burden’s Landing, Jack asks his... (full context)
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Adam asks Jack why Jack wants to know this about Irwin, and Jack replies, again over Anne’s objection,... (full context)
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At the capitol, Jack overhears a conversation between Duffy and Sadie, in which Duffy claims that the Boss wants... (full context)
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Jack sets about investigating to see if Anne’s claims are true. He goes to La Salle... (full context)
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After Jack keeps digging for a while, however, he realizes that, although Mabel came from family money,... (full context)
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...the American Electric Power Company in 1915—a job that paid a great deal of money. Jack, upon further digging, realized that Irwin had also been given a certain amount of American... (full context)
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But at this point, Jack reaches a dead end. He can’t find a link between American Electric and Irwin—not, that... (full context)
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Jack eventually finds Lily in a very small apartment in Memphis, TN, where she lives in... (full context)
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Jack tells Lily there is nothing to worry about now—the insurance company will never know—and he... (full context)
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Burden says that he will take the letter, quickly, to have it “photostatted” (copied), so that... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Jack begins the chapter by recounting the seven months he spent on the Irwin case, from... (full context)
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Jack reports, however, that Lucy felt, in the meantime, that her son was becoming an overconfident... (full context)
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Willie then has a conversation with Jack, one evening in the governor’s mansion, after repelling yet another persuasive advance by Duffy to... (full context)
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Jack tells Willie he understands this explanation, but also that, with six million dollars around, surely... (full context)
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Jack goes to Adam’s shabby apartment the next day in an attempt to win him over... (full context)
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Burden attempts to continue to convince Adam to take the job, but to no avail—Adam says... (full context)
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After Memphis, Burden returns to Baton Rouge with a message from Anne that she wishes to meet with... (full context)
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...his life—will he be a good brother to her again, and a good friend to Burden. Jack says he has evidence—from his “historical researches”—that will change Adam’s worldview and perhaps convince... (full context)
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During the intense conversation between Anne and Jack, a policeman arrives and wonders what the commotion is—Jack talks back to the cop, who... (full context)
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Anne asks Burden a few days later to send her the Photostat of the letter Mortimer sent to... (full context)
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Anne asks Burden to promise to show these materials to Irwin before making them public—to give Irwin a... (full context)
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Burden then has an extended daydream, soon after this meeting with Adam, in which he recalls... (full context)
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Burden then realizes something that has been bothering him since the night Anne asked to speak... (full context)
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Burden asks Adam a couple days later, when he is over at Adam’s apartment attempting to... (full context)
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Jack has no idea that Willie and Anne are having an affair, but now his gut-feeling... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Burden is so upset at the news that Anne is having an affair with Willie, he... (full context)
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The summer after he turned 21, when Anne was 17, Burden returned home from the state university and lived in Burden’s Landing for the summer—he began... (full context)
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One day, after spending time together on a pier overlooking the bay, Burden and Anne kissed for the first time, and walked back to the Stanton house together... (full context)
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Burden details the rest of the summer, which is a blur of events with Anne—the two... (full context)
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Jack recalls another moment spent with Anne, when they were at a swimming pool—Anne dove in... (full context)
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But after those two days, as the summer is winding down, Anne and Jack did return to spending time together, and Jack recalls how, that second-to-last evening, they went... (full context)
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And at that moment, Jack’s mother, who had been out drinking, returned home and began making noise downstairs. Jack panicked... (full context)
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Jack next saw Anne on his winter break, for ten days, and he remembers that the... (full context)
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Jack was aghast at the knowledge that Anne had “cheated” on him, but Anne admitted that... (full context)
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After dropping out of graduate school and taking a job at the Chronicle, Jack was briefly married to a woman named Lois, and he recounts their relationship here, in... (full context)
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Jack felt that Lois merely wished Jack to look the part of her husband—she only cared... (full context)
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Jack quickly wraps up his story of Anne—she graduated college, returned to Burden’s Landing to care... (full context)
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Jack therefore recalls, on the bed in Long Beach, and in the long car ride back... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...east, while he is having this long daydream in his mind (from the previous chapter), Burden also picks up a hitchhiker named “Don Jon,” who has a twitch in his face... (full context)
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Burden drives straight to Willie’s office and Willie asks where he’s been for nearly a week—Jack... (full context)
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Burden also spends some time with Adam, who is working day and night at his old... (full context)
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Burden then finds out that, several weeks later, Adam and Anne are visited at Adam’s apartment... (full context)
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Burden attempts to calm Adam down, but to no avail. He leaves the apartment and talks... (full context)
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Jack asks Anne why she began sleeping with Willie, and she says that she loves him,... (full context)
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Burden does eventually manage to convince Adam not to pursue charges against Coffee, on Willie’s urging—no... (full context)
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...rather to do with Tom, now in his second year as a student at LSU. Burden and Willie find out that Tom has gotten a girl named Sibyl Frey pregnant, and... (full context)
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...that Tom is not in fact the biological father of the child. In the meantime, Burden meets with Lucy Stark, whom he feels, intuitively, needs his help at this difficult moment... (full context)
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Jack breaks the news of Tom’s situation to Lucy, in the small clapboard house where Lucy... (full context)
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...the meantime, has figured out a strategy for dealing with MacMurfee and Frey—he realizes that Jack still has dirt on Irwin, dirt that they have till now waited to reveal—but since... (full context)
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Burden travels to Burden’s Landing and stays the night at his mother’s house, where she urges... (full context)
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Irwin welcomes Jack inside and believes that Jack has come to pay him a friendly visit—but quickly Jack... (full context)
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Jack then realizes that he has to use his blackmail in order to get Irwin to... (full context)
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Before Jack leaves, he asks Irwin to think it over overnight—but Irwin says, again, that his mind... (full context)
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Jack goes to bed and wakes up the next morning to his mother’s screams—she claims that... (full context)
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Jack is, for the moment, shocked at this, but he soon realizes that this explains a... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Burden recounts just how strange the events of the past week have been—he finds that he... (full context)
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Meanwhile, after Irwin’s death, Jack has asked that his portfolio of assignments for Willie be limited to issues of policy,... (full context)
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Jack realizes that Duffy and Gummy have achieved what they’ve always wanted—the lucrative contract to the... (full context)
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But another terrible event occurs which throws off Jack’s and Willie’s plans, and which Jack acknowledges to be the event that bring about, through... (full context)
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While Tom is undergoing this emergency procedure, Jack talks with Sadie in the hospital—who is largely unmoved by Tom’s state, since she feels... (full context)
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The next day, Jack receives a frantic call from Anne, who says that Adam visited her the night before... (full context)
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Jack is unable to find Adam, however, and returns to the capitol to meet with Willie... (full context)
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But in the hallway, as Jack turns away for a moment and turns back, he sees Adam, looking haggard and dirty,... (full context)
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Jack then reports that Willie was taken to the hospital, the same one in which Tom... (full context)
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Jack ends the chapter by saying the Boss’s funeral was later that week, and was attended... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Jack returns to Burden’s Landing, and to his mother’s house—she is on vacation with Theodore, and... (full context)
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Jack tracks down Sadie Burke, who has checked into a sanatorium for her nerves in the... (full context)
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Sadie tells Jack that she wanted Willie killed, or at least punished, because she knew that Willie loved... (full context)
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Jack meets with Sadie, again, at the sanatorium, and she provides a signed affidavit of her... (full context)
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Burden now begins wrapping up the narrative of his and Willie’s lives—he realizes that Sadie is... (full context)
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Jack also learns, via the newspaper, that Tom Stark has died of the injuries he sustained... (full context)
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Jack decides to return to Burden’s Landing, leaving behind Baton Rouge for a time. He has... (full context)
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The narration then skips ahead, from 1939 into an undetermined future. Jack reveals that he has reconciled with Anne, who has also moved back to the Landing—they... (full context)
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Jack’s plan for his life, then, is as follows: he is to use the Irwin money,... (full context)