All the King’s Men

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The significance of the lobotomy in Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men"

Around three-quarters of the way through RPW’s masterpiece, Jack Burden observes Adam Stanton perform a lobotomy on one of his patients. Some have argued that the lobotomy represents Jack’s disassociation with the present, yet some will go further and say that Jack is watching himself undergo a lobotomy, as a sort of ‘out of body’ experience. Talk about the possible reasons for Jack’s fascination with the surgery…what is the relationship between "The Great Twitch" and the lobotomy? Are Jack’s "Great Sleeps" just the same as a lobotomy? Analyze the implications of a lobotomy in terms of Jack’s existential crisis, and perhaps suggest an explanation for Jack’s eventual disgust with the surgery.