All The King’s Men portrayed the relationships established between father and son both spiritually, as well as physically. It made the reader consider the ties that are deeper than flesh and blood, the ones that lied within the relationships crafted in this novel. The father and son relationships between Jack Burden and the many fatherly figures introduced to him over the years, Willie and Tom, and Governor Stanton and Adam changed these characters and developed them throughout the novel.
Jack Burden, for the greater part of the story, believed Ellis Burden (The Scholarly Attorney) to be his father. Jack always had a sense of longing for a relationship with Ellis, which crumbled when Jack was only six years old, when to Ellis abandoned him and his mother.
Not until Jack was a grown adult did he understand Ellis had left because of an affair between his mother and Judge Irwin. Although Jack never admits to it, we come to realize how desperately he needed a father. When he visited Mr. Burden in the mid 1930’s, he met George, who Ellis had taken in. George was unable to function like a normal person, an “unfortunate soul” whom Ellis nurtures as a father would a son. When Jack watches Ellis feed George chocolates, he remembers his “father” bringing him sweets. “I looked at the old man over there and my guts went warm and a big lump seemed to dissolve in my chest- as though I had carried a big lump around in there for so long I had got used to it and didn’t realize it had been there until suddenly it was gone.” (Pg. 300) The relationship between Jack and Ellis remained strained, and when Jack questioned Ellis of the past, of his years spent in Burdens landing, Ellis’ response was “that time is dead”. (pg. 302)
In the beginning of the story Jack acknowledges Judge Irwin to have been like a father. We later discover that the relationship ran deeper than emotionally, they were also bonded through blood. Because Jack never had a father growing up, (the scholarly...