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Response: First Two Paragraphs, All the King's Men

             The first two paragraphs of All the King’s Men describe Highway 58 and the surrounding countryside, and the feeling of speeding down the road on a hot day. The paragraphs are composed of very long sentences containing few pauses (or relatively little punctuation). Because of this, the written description of Highway 58 and the countryside gives the feeling of speeding along in a blur: it is hard to focus on one part of the description at a time, because there are no pauses to stop and to process the words and phrases. The descriptions also make it sound as though the narrator (or even writer) is daydreaming, in that the descriptions are not strictly focused on the landscape. The narrator’s thoughts drift frequently from one subject to something seemingly unrelated or unimportant, such as when the narrator goes off on a tangent about what kind of clothes women did or didn’t wear. However, even though these components seem disconnected, they work together to make the reader “feel” the southern landscape and understand the people who inhabit that landscape. Warren successfully places the reader inside the car, shows them the highway and the cotton fields, and helps the reader know and “remember” the things that Jack and Willie would recall as they rode along on Highway 58.
             The first two paragraphs have a generally apathetic mood. Apathy is manifested especially in the interaction between the two farmhands after a car has crashed: “…and he’ll say, ‘Lawd God, hit’s a-nudder one done hit!’ And the next nigger down the next row, he’ll say, ‘Lawd God,’ and the first nigger will giggle, and the hoe will lift again…” (Warren 1). The two workers seem not to care at all that someone has just been killed; rather, the whole episode is slightly amusing at first, and then the two just return to what they had been doing.