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Unformatted text preview: Most of the events from the past that are introduced into All the King's Men have a clear bearing either on the life of Willie Stark or on the life of Jack Burden. The story of Cass Mastern, however, seems to have little bearing on anything in the novel, even though it was to have been the topic of Jack's doctoral dissertation in history and even though it is the story of his supposed paternal grandmother's brother. Indeed, many readers have had difficulty with this episode, and some critics have argued that the presence of this episode in the novel constitutes a serious flaw. Such arguments notwithstanding, the Cass Mastern episode is an integral part of the novel and serves several important purposes. This story stands as a clear indication of Jack Burden's inability to understand the past and as a measure of his lack of a moral base upon which to act. In addition, to understand the past and as a measure of his lack of a moral base upon which to act....
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- Fall '08