The Great Spider Web
In the book, “All The King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren, the character of Jack Burden gradually evolves into a person with a deeper comprehension of the world around him. Jack grapples with many new concepts, including the concept of whether or not knowledge is power. Jack’s profession involves digging into the past to discover information about others, which often, he will later use to blackmail them. So naturally Jack believes knowledge holds great power. However, as the book carries on, Jack struggles with the idea that his knowledge may have a much deeper effect on society than the original purpose of the information. Throughout this novel Jack demonstrates that knowledge is power, but he eventually realizes that his knowledge can lead to sorrow in the lives of others, which leaves him with the idea that some things may be better left unsaid.
During this book Jack exhibits that knowledge is power. One would expect this from Jack Burden because his job, first and foremost, consists of digging up dirt on other politicians for his boss Willie Stark (the governor of Louisiana). Jack, who narrates this book, comes right out and says, “The end of man is knowledge…”(p.9), which infuses with his idea that knowledge is power, and can essentially break down a man. Near the end of the book this quote is very significant to Jack in that events occur that prove his opinion is correct, but that he should exercise his wealth of knowledge in a different way. The entire plot of this book is drawn from the moment Willie finds out that a certain Judge Irwin supports a candidate running against his own. Willie pays a little visit to Judge Irwin in an effort to persuade him to retract his statement, but his attempt fails. “The Boss said, ‘Well Jackie, it looks like you got a job cut out for you.’ And I said, ‘Callahan?’
And he said, ‘Nope, Irwin.’
And I said, “I don’t reckon you’ll find anything on Irwin.’ And he said, ‘You find it’”(p.49). This...
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