The novel’s protagonist (along with Jack Burden, the narrator), Willie, over the course of All the King’s Men, drags himself up from impoverished circumstances, initially eschews alcohol, earns a law degree, and… (read full character analysis)
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… (read full character analysis)
Willie’s lieutenant governor and a political operative of some importance in the state, Duffy was once a part of the Harrison Democratic machine in Louisiana, but realized, when Willie was elected, that he would have… (read full character analysis)
Willie’s long-suffering wife, Lucy has been with Willie since before the days of his fame, and though he has carried on many affairs during the time of their marriages, she remains with Willie until his… (read full character analysis)
A judge of great prominence in the state, and Jack’s mentor from a young age in Burden’s Landing, Irwin is representative of Louisiana’s old political order, and he distrusts Willie. Willie orders Jack to… (read full character analysis)
Jack’s childhood friend, Adam is a gifted if somewhat anti-social doctor at the local hospital, well-known in the region for his medical prowess and morality. Willie wants Adam to run his free hospital, and though… (read full character analysis)
Jack’s childhood friend and ex-girlfriend, Anne is a philanthropist in the Baton Rouge area who starts up an affair with Willie—she claims that she loves him, though after Willie’s death she repairs her relationship… (read full character analysis)
Jack’s mother’s most recent husband, Theodore, the “Young Executive,” is not much older than Jack himself, and Jack knows that his mother will be married to him for only so long—he is quiet and largely… (read full character analysis)
This man, whom Jack believed to be his biological father, is revealed only to be his “stepfather” when Jack discovers Irwin’s true relationship to his mother—the “Scholarly Attorney” (after learning of his wife's infidelities) has… (read full character analysis)
A political crony affiliated with Tiny Duffy, Gummy Larson wants the contract for Willie’s free hospital—six million dollars—so that he can “skim” some amount of money off the top for himself and for Duffy… (read full character analysis)
Two bigwigs in the state Democratic Party, MacMurfee attempts to run for the Senate in Louisiana, after serving as governor before Willie (and falling to Willie in the 1930 election). Harrison, who was also governor… (read full character analysis)
The head counsel for the American Power Company when Irwin was attorney general in Louisiana, Mortimer lost his job because American gave it to Irwin, as part of a bribe—Mortimer then attempted to inform Governor… (read full character analysis)
Sister of Mortimer, Lily is found by Jack Burden in Memphis, and Jack convinces her to provide him a copy of the letter Mortimer wrote to Lily describing Irwin’s malfeasance and Stanton’s cover-up. Jack… (read full character analysis)
A society lady in Burden’s Landing, Jack’s mother has been married several times, and she reveals, after Irwin’s death, that she was having an affair with Irwin, the product of which was Jack—that the “Scholarly Attorney” was not Jack’s biological father.
Willie’s driver, Sugar-Boy is largely responsible for piloting the black Cadillac at high speeds over the roads of Louisiana, with Jack and Willie in tow. He is a phenomenal driver, and deeply loyal to Willie.
Willie’s only son, Tom is a star football player for LSU who is injured and paralyzed during a botched football play. He later succumbs to his injuries in the hospital.
Tom’s girlfriend for a brief period of time, Sibyl becomes pregnant and believes Tom to be the father—Sibyl later gives birth, after Tom’s death, and Lucy Stark resolves to raise the child as her grandson, named Willie.
Mr. and Mrs. Patton
Another "old-guard" Burden’s Landing family, the Pattons are friends with Judge Irwin and bristle at the idea that Willie, whom they perceive to be an interloper, is running the state.
The state auditor while Willie is governor, Byram is caught by Willie attempting to make a bribe. Willie threatens to fire White but does not, thus keeping him “under his wing” and making sure that White no longer steps out of line.
State attorney general under Stark, Hugh Miller considers himself a “a man of principle,” and resigns his posting on hearing that Willie will not fire Byram despite his attempts at securing a bribe.
Husband of Annabelle and friend of Cass’s, Duncan kills himself upon learning that the two are having an affair, and leaves his marriage ring under his pillow as a sign of his knowledge that the affair is taking place.
Annabelle’s slave working in the Trice home, Phebe discovers the ring Duncan leaves under his pillow after killing himself—Annabelle, convinced Phebe knows about her affair, sells Phebe “downriver” to New Orleans. Cass attempts to find Phebe, but cannot, though he tracks her to nearby Paducah.
An indigent man taken in by the Scholarly Attorney, George is a former trapeze artist who now makes art out of bread he finds and chews into a kind of sculpture.
Irwin’s second wife, Mabel grew up in moneyed circumstances but lost this wealth after years of heavy spending—she married Irwin for money, not knowing that Irwin married her for the same reason. This prompted Irwin to accept American Power’s bribe.