All The King's Men

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Sadie Burke Character Analysis

Willie’s office secretary, Sadie Burke helped orchestrate Willie’s rise to political prominence in the state. She has also been having an affair with Willie for some time, although Willie informs Sadie that he loves Anne, and that he is willing to leave his wife to be with her (which he was never willing to do for Sadie). Sadie later gets revenge on Willie by telling Duffy to inform Adam of Willie’s affair with Anne, hoping that Adam will harm Willie.

Sadie Burke Quotes in All The King's Men

The All The King's Men quotes below are all either spoken by Sadie Burke or refer to Sadie Burke. 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 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. 

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Sadie Burke Character Timeline in All The King's Men

The timeline below shows where the character Sadie Burke appears in All The King's Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
A second car, following the car in which the narrator sits, contains Sadie Burke (secretary to the Boss) and a pool of journalists who have been assigned to... (full context)
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...and Duffy. After sitting in the parlor for a moment, the next car arrives, with Sadie and the reporters in tow, and a photographer asks to take some “candid” shots of... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Sadie rushes out to join Burden and Willie out back, by the fence. She has something... (full context)
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Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
Burden leaves Sadie and Willie, who has taken this news poorly, and goes off to watch Sugar-Boy shooting,... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...campaign, Burden is at a coffee shop in a small town and is joined by Sadie Burke, who has recently moved from the Harrison machine to Willie’s campaign. Burden tells Sadie... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...while Burden is agreeing with him, although gently suggesting that Willie’s campaign might be doomed, Sadie comes into the room, and believing that Burden has told Willie that his campaign is... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...the hotel room. It is the first time Willie has consumed alcohol in his life. Sadie counsels him to watch himself, and Burden goes out for the night in Upton, returning... (full context)
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Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...a fugue, before narrating what happens next, Burden admits that he fell in love with Sadie a little bit that night, and that she turned him away—that he never had any... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...MacMurfee vote, and that he is now resigning to campaign for MacMurfee. Burden remarks to Sadie (the two are in the crowd) that she is out of a job, and when... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
One instance of this consolidation of power is the fact that Duffy and Sadie, once working for Harrison, now choose to work for Willie as Governor. Duffy eventually becomes... (full context)
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...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 speak with Jack about... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...to him by a Democratic Party operative. Back in Baton Rouge, Jack was accosted by Sadie Burke, who was extremely angry to hear the news about Willie—Sadie reveals that she and... (full context)
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Willie has really cheated on his wife, and that he is only secondarily cheating on Sadie, but this only makes Sadie angrier—she states that Willie will come back to her, and... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
The South and Southern Culture Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
At the capitol, Jack overhears a conversation between Duffy and Sadie, in which Duffy claims that the Boss wants to put six million dollars of taxpayer... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...and Burden continues to wonder who did. Then, several days later, in the capitol office, Sadie comes bursting out of her own room screaming that Willie has “done it again,” gone... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...is having an affair with Willie, and Willie is convinced that only Sugar-Boy, Burden, and Sadie know about the affair—Willie trusts these three, and does not anticipate any problems caused by... (full context)
Chapter 9
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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 that Tom was... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Jack tracks down Sadie Burke, who has checked into a sanatorium for her nerves in the wake of Willie’s... (full context)
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Sadie tells Jack that she wanted Willie killed, or at least punished, because she knew that... (full context)
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Jack meets with Sadie, again, at the sanatorium, and she provides a signed affidavit of her conversation with Duffy... (full context)
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Burden now begins wrapping up the narrative of his and Willie’s lives—he realizes that Sadie is right, that it is not worth publicizing the true nature of Willie demise, and... (full context)