Critical analysis of "Montana 1948" by Larry Watson. Includes plot summary, themes, major and minor characters, conflicts and more.

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Montana 1948

- Title: Montana 1948 ; Genre- American West Fiction

- Author: Larry Watson; Birth - 1948. Still living

- Publication Date: 1993

- Plot Summary: David Hayden lives in a small town called Bentrock, Montana. The Haydens is a powerful family of Mercer County, including members such as the local sheriff and a war hero. The summer of 1948 is a turning point in David's life forever changes his point of view on everything he's ever known. First his nanny, Marie Little Soldier, falls into a sickness and David's uncle, Frank, now a doctor, is called to examine Marie. Marie refuses to be examined by him, and tells David's mom, Gail, that uncle frank molests his Native American patients. Eventually Marie dies, but David admits to his father that Uncle Frank may have murdered and sexually abused Marie. Wes, the local sheriff and David's father is faced with the decision to remain loyal to his family and leave Uncle Frank free, or to remain loyal to justice and and arrest Uncle Frank.

Eventually, it is agreed to lock Uncle Frank in David's house cellar until a proper decision can be made about Uncle Frank's fate, but within the cellar Uncle Frank commits suicide and ends the dispute.

- Themes: There are three noticeable themes within this story. The first is the general abuse of power from people of higher authority. Though it may not be evident many high authorities may abuse their powers. Another theme that is definitely showing is that of racism. In the story, Frank would only take advantage of his Native American patients, and many people in the book disregarded Native Americans. One final theme that ran throughout the story was that of whether family loyalty or justice was more important. Wes was forced to choose between these two topics and in the end he chose justice, which was not supported by his own father.

- Major Characters: 1. David Hayden- Narrator;

2. Wes Hayden- Sheriff of Mercer County; Protagonist

3. Frank Hayden- Doctor, war hero, sexual attacker; Antagonist

4. Gail Hayden- Mother of David, supports Wes most of the way.

5. Marie Little Soldier- Housekeeper for the Haydens, murdered by Frank

6. Grandpa Hayden- Father of Wes and Frank. Supports Frank more than Wes.

- Minor Characters: 1. Len McAuley - a neighbor of the Haydens; sheriff deputy. Testified that he saw Frank enter the Hayden household the day of Marie's death

2. Daisy McAuley- Len's husband; tells Gail about the rumor that Frank molests his patients

- Significance of the Title- Describes the setting of the book

- Settings- Summer of 1948; Bentrock, Montana. Significance of Montana - racism is very clear noticeable. Significance of Bentrock - Small town so war heroes were treasured even more than they usually were, symbolic of struggle because it was rural, had fierce blizzards, and overwhelming heat. Significance of 1948 - right before the civil rights movement, many minorities were discriminated against.

- Conflicts: Wes must choose whether to remain loyal to his family, which in this case would be "evil", or to obey the law and arrest his brother, which would be considered "good". He was also required to choose whether to even bring up the issue of Frank to his own father. Telling the issue was correct conduct, even though he knew his father would reject. Many conflicts of ethical terms were resolved to the negative choice, but some examples are that Grandpa Hayden sent a batch of men to break in and free Frank from the cellar. Also, Frank abuses his power to sexually assault his patients.

- Point of View: The point of view in this story can help show the crudeness of some of the actions taken by Grandpa Hayden. David's point of view can also show a better and personal description of all of the other characters because he is close to all of them. The themes racism and abuse of power is repeated throughout the story. This is done by how Native Americans were constantly taken advantage of and did not receive any attention by the other officers.