Final Thoughts?

Hey guys, this is my last update for this book. I’m kind of upset that it’s over, but I definitely won’t miss the late nights rummaging through my book trying to figure out what to write about!

Basically I have fallen in love with some of the characters. I’ve also learned to dislike some.

For starters, Jack is the protagonist of the story. He is very intelligent. He is Willie’s right-hand man. He is also troubled by the question of responsibility and motive’s in history. He decides he can’t comprehend Cass Mastern’s motives for becoming an abolitionist. He develops the Great Twitch theory to try to convince himself that you can’t hold anyone responsible for anything that happens, but eventually accepts the idea of human responsibility.

Then we have Willie, or the “Boss.” Willie came from nothing and ended up a powerful political figure. He was Married to Lucy and they had a child named Tommy. Willie had an affair with Sadie Burke who was jealous of his other mistresses. Lucy ended up “leaving” him. It’s in quotes because they kept up the image of marriage, but she went to her sisters poultry farm. He later had an affair with Anne Stanton. See, this makes me mad. I don’t understand why someone has to cheat, and if they do cheat, why with several different women. That’s just gross to me. I don’t understand why Anne gave up on Jack because he wasn’t sleeping around, but that’s none of my business.

Next is Anne Stanton. The one who had an affair with Willie. She was also Jack’s first love. They were really cute to me, and I know he later went on to marry Lois and then divorce, but what if they had continued to stay in touch and didn’t gradually lose feelings? Oh my gosh, they would’ve been such a power couple.

Next we have Adam. Adam Stanton is pretty important to our plot. He was Jack’s closest childhood friend, the brother of Anne, and Governor Stanton’s son. Adam Stanton is also Willie’s murderer. Toward the beginning, he didn’t seem as if his role in the book was that important. He was practically driven mad by everything being thrown at him. He find’s out about his dad blackmailing people. Then he find’s out Willie is sleeping with his sister. Tiny Duffy also gets into his head. No, he shouldn’t have murdered him, but the things leading up to the murder would drive someone crazy.

That is all for this blog. I know. I’m kind of sad to stop writing. I truly have created a bond with some of these characters and now that it’s over, it’s a little disheartening. I’m excited that I am done though. There will be no more late nights. I’m officially signing off…

XOXO- Ash 🙂

What’s gone on so far?

Okay, so before I move on to my final thoughts on the book, which will be posted on Wednesday, February 13, along with maybe a super brief summary of what we read, I want to catch ya’ll up on everything that has happened previously and is going on currently.

Basically this will be a detailed overview of my last blog posts! Just in case you’re confused at what is going on, or you don’t have time to read the other nine posts on the site, or you just don’t feel like reading them, you can get semi caught up with this post.

Let’s start with “Coming At You.” At the beginning of the book, the mentioning of Highway 58 was a lot. Jack said that “You look up the highway and it is straight for miles, coming at you…” That’s where I got my title from since my English professor said I needed to give my blog post more alluring titles. We learn about Sugar-boy. He was the driver of the Boss’s cadillac. He spoke with a stutter. Also, “His name was O’Sheean, but they called him Sugar-boy because he ate sugar. Every time he went to a restaurant he took all the cube sugar there was in the bowl.” We also meet Lucy Talos. Who I honestly feel really bad for. She did everything she could and Willie still cheated on her, but I’m getting ahead of myself in this recap! Lucy Talos is a school teacher. She is married to Willie Talos who has “…a look of dog-like devotion and wonder in his eyes when they fixed on her.” (This makes me mad now, but It’s fine, I’m fine.)

In my second blog post, we learn about “The Honest Man.” After Lucy loses her job, Willie loses the election to Dolph Pillsbury. Willie stays low for a while. The Pillsbury group builds a school and, during a fire drill, many kids used the fire escape. It broke. Several kids were injured, and three kids died. Willie attended the triple funeral and stood silently in the back. A dad of one of the dead kids (I tried really hard, but there is no way to say that he was the father of a dead child and it not sound terrible.) saw Willie and said “Oh God, I am punished for accepting inequity and voting against an honest man!”

Next we have “The Governing Election.” People from the Harrison outfit told Willie to run for governor, but they did not want him to win. They were just using him as a pawn to split the MacMurfee vote. After making boring speeches that included nothing but facts and figures, Sadie Burke, from Harrison’s outfit, told him it was a setup. He got super drunk, went on stage, gave a speech bashing Harrison’s Outfit, and the MacMurfee Outfit won the election.

Alright, now we are moving on to “The Scandal.” Here is what I was refering to in the third block where I mentioned being sad for Lucy. Willie is in an apparent long term affair with Sadie Burke, who, get this, is jealous of his other mistresses. So, it’s not just Sadie that he is cheating on Lucy with. Lucy seems to know nothing about this situation, but, eventually, Lucy leaves Willie by spending time away from him, but they keep up the appearance of being married.

Next is “Cass Mastern.” He has his own chapter. I’ll get into that a little on Wednesday.

Then we have “The Dirt.” This one isn’t too interesting. Jack is trying to scrounge up dirt on Judge Irwin. He found out the Irwin took out a mortgage on his plantation. He also gets his hands on a letter from a spiritual medium named Lily Mae Littlepaugh, from her brother George Littlepaugh, whom Judge Irwin replaced at the power company. It was a suicide note, revealing that the Judge had received a large amount of stock and his position at the power company as a bribe for dismissing a court case brought against the Southern Belle Fuel Company. After her brother’s suicide, Lily did everything she could to help this situation, but Governor Stanton protected Judge Irwin. Stanton even threatened Lily with prosecution for insurance fraud.

Next we have “The Affair.” We learn about Jack’s relationship with Anne Stanton. They were kind of cute in my opinion and I was a tad salty that they broke up, but it’s fine. After they split, Jack married Lois. He didn’t like her friends, and she was uninteresting, yet he still married her. He ended up leaving her later on. Then we find out Anne is having an affair with Wille. I swear, how many girls did he have hanging around him?

So yeah, this is my update on where we are now. I also wrote about “The great Twitch,” but, like Cass, I will get in that more on Wednesday after my Final chapter. I’m excited! This blogging journey is almost over. I’m also kind of sad. I’ve learned so much, like the fact I kind of enjoy blogging, but maybe not about a book 🙂

The Great Twitch

Okay, so we learn that Jack picks up a man at a gas station in New Mexico while on his way back to Arkansas. Jack notices that the man has a facial twitch, but seems completely unaware of it. Jack, thinking about the twitch, comes to the conclusion that it is a metaphor for the randomness of life. Which is the ideas he had been calming himself with back in California. The ideas which excused him from the responsibility for Willie and Anne’s affair, and he begins to refer to life as the “Great Twitch.”

Jack feels detached from the world because of his new secret knowledge of the Great Twitch. Later, Jack visits Willie and resumes his normal life. He sees Adam Stanton a couple times and even goes to watch him perform a prefrontal lobotomy on a schizophrenic patient which seems to him like another reasoning for the Great Twitch. One night, Anne Stanton calls Jack and asks him meet her at drugstore. She tells him that a guy named Hubert Coffee tried to bribe Adam to throw the building contract for the new hospital to Gummy Larson. Adam did not like this idea at all. He hit the man, threw him out, and wrote a letter of recognition from his position as director of the hospital. Anne begs Jack to convince Adam to change his mind. Jack says that he will try to persuade him, but that he is acting irrationally and may not listen to reason.

He tries to persuade Adam by getting Willie to press charges against Hubert Coffee, convincing Adam that Willie is not corrupt. Anne offers to testify, but, if she did, her affair with Willie would become public, and that kind of does not need to happen. Jack asks Anne why she has put herself into this affair with Willie, and Anne says that she loves him and will marry him after he is elected to the Senate next year.

Willie agrees to press charges against Coffee, and Jack is able to persuade Adam to remain in his position as director of the hospital.

New update Sunday, February 10. We are so close to the end of this book. I’m happy to stop reading, but sad to let the characters go 😦

The Affair

Okay, so Jack was in love with Anne Stanton. Jack spent most of his time with Adam Stanton, and Anne just tagged along. He fell in love with her after his junior year at the State University when he was twenty one and Anne was seventeen. They ended up spending the whole summer together and had an intense physical relationship.

During a thunderstorm, they found themselves alone and almost ‘did it’ for the first time, but Jack hesitated. His mom ended up coming home early, so their chance was ruined. The next day Jack tried to get Anne to marry him, but she was doubtful, saying that she loved him, but felt like something in his unambitious persona was an impediment to her giving in to her feelings.

See, if she was unsure of of feelings why would she stay with him? Like, I just don’t understand.

A few days later Anne left for boarding school. They wrote to each other everyday, but their feelings for each other started to unwind. When they saw each other again, it was different. Anne wouldn’t let Jack “do it” with her and they even fought about it. Eventually the letters stopped, he got thrown out of law school, and ended up marrying Lois. He didn’t like her friends and she didn’t interest him as a person. He ended up leaving her.

I also don’t understand why he married someone who he found uninteresting. Like does he feel that desperate to where he’s like “yeah, sure I guess I’ll marry you.”

After two years in college, Anne comes home to take care of her dying father. She had been engaged several times, but she never got married becoming an old maid after her father’s death. She devoted herself to working with charities and the orphanage.

She then has an affair with Willie!!! Like what? Seriously?

New update Wednesday, February 6. XO- Ash

The Dirt

All right, so Jack is basically obsessed with finding dirt on Judge Irwin. If you remember, at the end of chapter one, Willie told Jack to find dirt on Irwin. When Jack said “suppose there isn’t anything to find?” In which Willie responded with “Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something….and make it stick” I know it says that Willie wasn’t happy that he disagreed with his, but I’m still trying to figure out why he has to go to so many extremes to find dirt. Also, why can’t he do it himself? I guess, if that happened, then the whole book would have to be from Willie’s point of view? Anyways, to continuing with Jack finding his evidence.

Jack is trying to get George to talk about Judge Irwin, but George just doesn’t want to budge. He kept repeating “foulness” and saying “I will not touch the world of foulness again.” I know that Willie wants Judge Irwin to side with him, but does it really matter this much to make Jack go to such extremes?

After not getting anything out of George, Jack decides to investigate deeper into the Judge’s past. He toggled with the idea that Jack married a rich woman, but after much research from old newspapers and court documents, he found out that the Judge didn’t marry a woman for money, but instead had taken out a mortgage on his plantation. After some further digging, Jack finds a letter from a spiritual medium named Lily Mae Littlepaugh, from her brother George Littlepaugh, whom Judge Irwin replaced at the power company. It was a suicide note, revealing that the Judge had received a large amount of stock and his position at the power company as a bribe for dismissing a court case brought against the Southern Belle Fuel Company, which, get this, has the SAME parent company as American Electric Power. They even kind of sound similar.

After her brother’s suicide, Lily Littlepaugh did everything she could to help this situation, but Governor Stanton protected Judge Irwin. Stanton even threatened Lily with prosecution for insurance fraud.

It only took about seven months, but Jack had found his proof.

New update Sunday, February 3. Maybe we will see what Jack decides to do with the dirt he has found. XO- Ash

Cass Mastern

This part is really interesting, but also super confusing, so just bear with me! So it starts with Annabelle Trice, she is the wife of Duncan Trice. She had an affair with Cass Mastern. When Duncan found out about sed affair, he took off his wedding ring and killed himself. It was ruled as an accident. He was cleaning his guns in his library and “accidentally” shot himself dead. (I think we all know it wasn’t an accident.) Then, Phebe, one of the Trice’s slaves, found Duncan’s ring and took it to Annabelle. Since Annabelle apparently couldn’t deal with Phoebe knowing what she had done, she sold her to a man in Paducah. Cass, the one Annabelle committed adultery with, was not happy with Annabelle’s decision, so he set out to find and set Phebe free, but he failed.

He later went on to free his slaves and become an abolitionist. He then enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army when the war came around, vowing to never kill an enemy soldier because he felt responsible for the death of his friend. He later died in a battle outside of Atlanta while he was on a search for Phebe.

Jack eventually gave up on trying to understand Cass Mastern’s odd behavior. After leaving the papers at the apartment, the landlady sent them to Jack. They remained unopened. He continued on with his life and they still remained unopened. The parcel began to yellow, and the name “Jack Burden” written on the top slowly faded.

Essentially, the story of Cass Mastern is the story of a man who commits an terrible sin, and realizes the rest of his life will be changed by that one action. Cass cannot forget the he had a part in Duncan Trice’s suicide, or Phebe being sold. His sense of responsibility from this situation makes him leave Annabelle, attempt to free Phebe,even though he failed, and to become an abolitionist in the South.

In my opinion, Jack doesn’t understand Cass Mastern’s motivations because he is not ready to confront the idea of responsibility. He wants to avoid in his past and “escape the present.”

New update Wednesday, January 30. XO-Ash 🙂

The Scandal

Okay, so this is going to be a shorter entry, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. In chapter three, we learn about Jack’s mother. We learn that she is married to Theodore Murrell, or “the Young Executive.”

Jack is telling about a time he visited his family. When his dad, “the scholarly attorney” left home to give out religious pamphlets. His mom told him that he left because he didn’t love her anymore. She then proceeded to have many relationships, such as The count, The Tycoon, and, her now husband, the Young Executive.

I really don’t understand why all of these guys had interesting names like “The Count” or “The Tycoon” like Mrs. Murrell’s exes. Even her now husband goes by “The Executive,” and her ex husband went by “The scholarly attorney.”

Here’s where things get a little bit interesting. The men in MacMurfee’s outfit are trying to impeach Byram B. White, the state auditor. Apparently he’s been involved in a scandal. Willie humiliates White, but then decides he wants to protect him. This causes Hugh Miller, Willie’s Attorney General, to resign from office, and try to convince Lucy to leave Willie. Willie then orders Jack to sleuth on the men in MacMurfee’s outfit and he begins stumping the state, giving speeches, and blackmailing MacMurfee’s men. Surprised by his cunning abilities, the MacMurfee men try to impeach willie, but blackmailing was a smart move because the impeachment is called off before the vote can be taken, and Willie wins the next election.

Alright, so here’s where it gets super juicy. We learn that Willie is in a long term affair with Sadie Burke, who, get this, is jealous of his other mistresses. He has multiple mistresses!! And Lucy seems to know nothing about all of this, but I don’t understand how you could keep a bunch of side chicks on the down low.

Eventually Lucy leaves Willie by spending time away from him, but they keep up the appearance of being married. We think it is because she doesn’t want to cut ties with him for Tommy’s sake, but Tommy is a teenaged football star going through his own sexual exploration.

That’s all for tonight. New update on Sunday January 27. XO-Ash

The Governing Election

Okay, so we left off when Willie got recognized as a honest man. He attended the triple funeral, and everyone pretty much was in the palm of his hand.

Now we learn that a government election is coming up. “There were then two major factions in the Democratic party in the state, the Joe Harrison outfit and the MacMurfee outfit. It was going to be a really close race, so someone in the Harrison outfit got the bright idea to put in a “dummy” to split the MacMurfee vote. They needed a loved man like Willie.

One of the men from Harrison’s outfit named Tiny Duffy, drove to Mason City that he was God’s choice for governor and the “savior of the state.” Even though “Willie was not religious by any ordinary standards,” he wanted the office, so he believed him.

They led him on for a while. He was a terrible candidate. His speeches were boring. He went off facts more than emotion. He wanted it so bad that he never realized he was being played. “Tiny Duffy summoning him was nothing but the echo of a certainty and a blind compulsion within him, the thing that had made him sit up in his room, night after night, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, to write the fine phrases and the fine ideas in the big ledger or to bend with a violent, almost physical intensity over the yellow page of an old law book.”

Eventually Sadie Burke, from Harrison’s outfit, told him that he was set up. Willie drank a bottle of Whiskey and crashed in Jack’s room. He was so hungover that he could not go to his campaign barbecue, so Jack had to give him more whiskey so he could attend. Willie then gave a drunk speech in the fit of anger. He told everyone he had been set up, and he completely bashed Harrison’s outfit. Which they totally deserved in my opinion. He then announced that he was dropping out of the race to support MacMurfee, who ended up winning in the long run.

Alright, so this is a good stopping point. Next update will be on Thursday January 24. XO-Ash 🙂

The Honest Man

At the beginning of the chapter, the speaker is talking about the last and first time he saw Mason City. The last time he saw Mason City, he “went up there in the Big Cadillac with Boss and the gang, and we burned up that new concrete slab.” The first time he went to Mason City, he went up there with his Model-T, “hanging onto the steering post to stay in the saddle.”

We learn that Jim Madison, the managing editor of the Chronicle, is not a fan of Willie Talos. He tells Jack to go to Mason City and see who “that fellow Talos is.” In my opinion, he kind of sounds jealous of Willie, in a way.

Later on, Lucy loses her job as a school teacher. She says that she doesn’t care. “I don’t care a bit if they wont let me teach any more. I taught six years, counting the term I was out and having little Tommie, and nobody ever said I wasn’t all right. But now they write me a letter and say they’re complaints about my work and I don’t show a spirit of co-oporation.” She then continues to say she does not care. “I don’t want to teach in a school house they build just so somebody can steal money. And Willie don’t want to be Treasurer either, if he has to associate with those dishonest people.”

After Lucy’s monologue about not caring, Willie announces that he is going to run for office, and he did. “Well, he did run when the time came, and he got more than one vote, but not many more, and Mr. Dolph Pillsbury and his pals won that round.” From the mention of Dolph, I’ve had a bad feeling about him….even though I really don’t know too much about him yet.

“Willie was out of a job.” He started working on Pappy’s farm doing chores, and working from door to door to make a little extra cash. Especially since Lucy was also out of a job.

On page 89, we see a small turn of hope for Willie. It says that he was “lucky to have the Sheriff and Dolph Pillsbury, for they were doing him a favor and not knowing it. He didn’t seem to know it either at the time, that they were his luck.” This got me really excited bc I got overly curious and just wanted to know why and how he got lucky!

Alright, there’s like a whole page and a half on how Willie got lucky, so I’m going to try to break this down into a short version! 🙂

Three years after the school was build, there was a fire drill. JUST a drill. “All the kids on the top floors started using the fire escapes.” The little kids came down first because they were unable to use get down the steps very fast. Then the bigger kids. “Because the little kids held up the traffic, the iron platform at the top got packed with kids. Worse comes to worse and the brickwork gave causing the bars and bolts to become loose and break. Three kids were killed immediately. Over a dozen were injured, and several of those were never really got better.

They held a triple funeral for the kids who died. Willie attended and stood modestly in the background, but one of the kids dads noticed him. He said, “Oh God, I am punished for accepting inequity and voting against an honest man!” Everyone started loving Willie. “He had Mason County in the palm of his hand.”

This is a pretty good stopping point! The chapter kind of goes downhill from here, so bare with me. The rest of chapter 2 will be posted either Friday Jan 18 or Saturday Jan 19 !! XO-Ash

Coming At You

In the beginning of this chapter, the speaker is talking about taking Highway 58. “You look up the highway and it is straight for miles, coming at you…” The entire time I was reading this, and re-reading this, and re-reading this, I kept thinking “what is the point of this?” Well, the speaker is describing his trip with his boss and a few others in the boss’s cadillac.

Sugar-boy was driving the boss’s cadillac. Now, when I first read that they called him Sugar-boy, (page 4) I was extremely confused. Apparently, “His name was O’Sheean, but they called him Sugar-boy because he ate sugar. Every time he went to a restaurant he took all the cube sugar there was in the bowl” (Page 5).

Some other people in the Cadillac were Lucy Talos, Willies wife, and Tiny Duffy. It says that “Duffy and Lucy Talos were never exactly what you would call soul mates. So Lucy sat between Duffy and me and gave herself to her thoughts” (page 6). See, I wasn’t quit sure what the speaker meant when he said they weren’t exactly “soulmates.” I guess they didn’t really get along, or have a lot in common?

Lucy Talos is a school teacher. She is married to Willie Talos who has “…a look of dog-like devotion and wonder in his eyes when they fixed on her” (page 6). Is it just me, or is that low key kind of romantic? We also learn that “you wouldn’t have to catch her in the bath-tub to discover her sex. She was the maternal type, and there was a place provided for man or boy to pillow his cheek and cry his little heart out” (page 7).

On page 9, we get introduced to Old Leather-face. In all honesty, I think I had to read this at least ten times just to understand what he was saying throughout this whole conversation between him and the Boss. Old Leather-face was extremely southern. It took me a while to translate “Hit wuz fahr and squahr , but he had leetle bad luck. He stobbed the feller and he died” to “It was fair and square, but he had a little bad luck. He stabbed the fellow and he died.” After I got the first few times down, it got easier to translate his dramatized southern drawl.

After arriving in Mason City, Willie attracts several adoring fans yelling “Speech, Willie, speech!” After claiming that he is “not going to make a speech,” he made a speech about how he’s “not a politician today” and that he’s “taking the day off” (page 14). He mentions several times that he is not “asking for anything” and that he didn’t want their vote, well not right now at least.

On page twenty-three, the Boss mentions something that I’ve never really thought of, but is honestly really smart. While the speaker is trying to figure out weather the Boss winked at him or not, he is causing himself to worry. Basically he’s sitting there going “Did he just? No, there’s no way. Maybe there is a way. He Didn’t! But what if he did?” Our brain works in the weirdest ways sometimes. Like for me, when someone says they have something for me and I say “Awhhh that’s too sweet, what is it?” and they answer with “It’s a surprise.” OOF! I hate that so much! When the speaker asks Boss if he winked at him, he answers with “If I was to tell you, then you wouldn’t have anything to think about.” That speaks so much truth. If they told me what they got me, I would be grateful, of course, but I would know about it, so It wouldn’t really be as fun to receive.

I know that was kind of off track 😦 sorry. I just thought it was worth mentioning!

Alrighty, toward the end of chapter one, we see Jack and Willie go and visit Judge Irwin. Willie speaks to Judge Irwin kind of rudely. The Judge insults Jack because he is working for such a man. Willie then ends up trying to blackmail Judge Irwin and the the judge gets angry and kicks them out. The Boss then tells Jack to find dirt on the Judge. Jack thinks he won’t be able to find anything on him, but the Boss tells him that “There is always something” (page 71).

The Boss then tells Jack that “Man in conceived in sin and born into corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something.” Then he said to “make it stick.”

As we finish the chapter, we see that it says “that was all a long time ago.” We learn that Masters, Adam Stanton, Anne Stanton, and Judge Irwin are all dead now. “And the Boss is dead, who said to me, ‘And make it stick.'” The final line of the chapter is “Little Jackie made it stick, all right.”

Hopefully we will learn what Jack made stick in the next few chapters! Chapter 2 will be posted on Wednesday, January 16.

XO- Ash