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All the King's Men
Throughout All the King's Men, history plays an important role in the motivations and lives of all the characters. History's importance is most noticeable, not surprisingly, in the story main characters - Willie Stark and Jack Burden - whose lives focus on and, in some cases, depend upon history and how they relate themselves to it. While Willie Stark views history as a tool with which to manipulate people for his own ends, an attitude resulting in his own destruction, Jack Burden's view of history changes over time and eventually allows him to accept his relationship to the past and, therefore, present. Since each man has such a differing view it is no wonder that history becomes important to each in different ways. Willie Stark must support his entire empire in a world of enemies and corruption, to do this he relies on the past to provide him with the foundation. "Dirt's a funny thing," the Boss said. "Come to think of it, there ain't a thing but dirt on this God's green globe except what's under water, and that's dirt too. It's dirt makes the grass grow. A diamond ain't a thing in the world but a piece of dirt that got awful hot. God-a-Mighty picked up a handful of dirt and blew on it and made you and me and George Washington and mankind blessed in faculty and apprehension. It all depends on what you do with the dirt."
In this case, Stark is referring to the past as dirt - something to be used in many ways. The way he chooses to use it of course is as ...