Hungry Cheeks: Jack Burden's Burden Essay

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In All the King’s Men, Jack Burden repeatedly has difficulty relating to the world, and is constantly plagued by cynicism and apathy for the people that surround him. One cause of this is his mother, Mrs. Murrell, who Jack never mentions except for when he returns home to Burden’s Landing. Because of his mother’s relationship with men, Jack neither feels close nor distant towards her, creating a strange limbo state between motherly love and the physical love she offers to her many husbands. Jack is therefore affected by her choices in marriage negatively, and distrusts women and cannot have a healthy love life because of her influence when he was a child. Because of his mother’s ability to attract men, the issue of the identity of a …show more content…
Compared to him, Jack’s mother has more success in finding love, if not fleeting, than he does with Lois or Anne, which is a huge confidence drain on him. This insecurity reminds Jack of the many instances in his childhood where he had to suffer through the many marriages and divorces his mother created and destroyed, and the instability that rocked his household. Overall, Jack’s mother’s dependence upon men to make her life complete end up damaging her child, as she is never completely available to him as a parent or serves as a family support system. Because of this lack of support and concern, Jack is left to discern life on his own terms without the beneficial guiding hand of a parent, ultimately creating a false sense of reality and a fierce cynicism that takes over his life. Next, the issue of the availability of a father figure is a constant theme that lasts through the novel. Jack’s ‘real’ father always seems to be missing in the novel, and even he is deceived by his mother in believing that the Scholarly Attorney is his father. The fact that Jack only learns that Judge Irwin is his true father after the judge kills himself only ratifies that he will always lead a fatherless life. Despite his mother’s efforts, Jack is unable to find a proper role model for a father in the many relationships that his mother starts with all of her men over the years. Because ‘father involvement and nurturance are

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