All The King's Men

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The Black Cadillac Symbol Analysis

The Black Cadillac Symbol Icon
The black Cadillac, driven by Sugar-Boy, symbolizes Willie’s power and political authority in the state of Louisiana, particularly in the first sequence of the novel, when Willie flies in the Cadillac into Mason City and its environs, where he grew up in near-poverty as a boy. Throughout the text, Willie hops into his black Cadillac (always driven by Sugar-Boy, and always at great speed), to campaign across the state, to handle emergencies and crises—and to announce his presence to those merely standing on the street, watching. The Cadillac therefore embodies not only Willie’s “arrival” on the political scene in Louisiana, but also the speed with which he wants his ideas to take shape—his impatience with political change in the state, and his desire to build roads, improve schools, reform the tax code, and most importantly, construct a free hospital for the citizens of Baton Rouge to use. It is notable, too, that Sugar-Boy, the driver, is one of the most trustworthy of Willie’s associates; till the end, after Willie’s death, Sugar-Boy wishes to defend his Boss and his Boss’s legacy in Louisiana politics.
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The Black Cadillac Symbol Timeline in All The King's Men

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Black Cadillac 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
...who sits up-front next to Sugar-Boy, enjoys how quickly and nimbly Sugar-Boy drives the great black Cadillac . (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
...his schoolhouse for later on in the narrative, but as he shifts back to the black Cadillac , in 1936, whirring past the schoolhouse Willie built, near Mason City, Burden seems to... (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
The black Cadillac pulls up next to the house where Willie grew up, a farmhouse in rural Mason... (full context)
Chapter 3
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...in the office seems the sleep the entire time; Willie travels the state in the black Cadillac and attempts to convince the public, through rousing speeches, that he has not failed them... (full context)
Chapter 5
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Landing, in 1936. That night, Burden and Willie drove back to Mason City in the black Cadillac , and before falling asleep in the wee hours of that morning, Willie told Jack... (full context)
Chapter 6
Idealism vs. Pragmatism Theme Icon
Politics, Influence, and Power Theme Icon
Personal History, Memory, and Time Theme Icon
Loyalty, Friendship, and Betrayal Theme Icon
...Burden agrees to do this. The next day, Burden goes with the Boss in the black Cadillac to talk with Adam. Willie gives Adam a long speech on what “the Good” means,... (full context)