Larry Watson



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Montana 1948

Larry Watson



Topic #3:Despite its setting, Montana 1948 is more about the pressures placed on families, often by their own members, than it is about the constriction of small-town life.” To what extent to you agree?
Plan: - Mainly the pressure on the Hayden family.

  • Wes, Gail, David, Frank…

  • How it affects them; pressure…

  • “…the weight of the Hayden name…”

  • When comparisons were made between those two, my father was bound to suffer.”

  • This isn’t about family, this is a legal matter.”

  • Take a look @ the bigger picture…

  • Wes finds it hard to do the right thing. Loyal to both Hayden family and the law…

  • Quote: When my father said something, it was right (coz he was a Hayden)

“This isn’t about family. This is a legal matter.” Montana 1948 is a text based on the pressures placed on families more so than it is about the constriction of small-town life. It is about how there is a struggle in life between what to do and what not to do - what is right and what is wrong. Despite it being a small town, Montana still has many types of people and still has the same problems to do with social issues as a larger city.


One of the main focuses of the text is the fact that Wesley Hayden is a man that has to make decisions that affects his life, his family life and all the other people in the county. Throughout the book, Wesley is confronted with instances where no matter what he chooses, he is always going to loose; a loose-loose situation. One example of this is when he and Gail are deciding whether or not Frank should be charged. In one hand he has the justice system and in the other he has his family. The effect of this scene on the reader makes them want to fell sorry for Wes. Essentially, Wes is a weak man, who through David’s eyes, is a person who doesn’t fit the character profile of a Sheriff of a small county town. He is a man who is afraid of what he does, and what others think of his actions. He doesn’t allow himself to be fully trustworthy of himself. He doesn’t have the strength or courage to stand up for himself in some instances, such as when his father Julian ‘demands’ that his brother be brought out from the basement.
Pressure was heavily bound to the Hayden family. Their name was respected in Montana and because of this, the pressure on Wes to do the right thing was enormous. The quote: “… …” shows this. He was also pressured by other people around him: Gail and Julian mainly. Gail wants Wes to do the right thing, but she doesn’t specifically say what Wes should do: “I’m telling you, Wes. I’m just telling you.” This again put Wes under pressure and he is left to ponder which road to take – uphold the law or protect his brother.
The death of Frank made Wes and his family really think about the values of life. He begins to contemplate with himself in that if had just not taken this case any further, that Frank might have still been alive. The quote “…it means knowing when to look and when to look away.” is followed by the words “…your dad hasn’t quite got the hang of it. Not just yet.” shows this. It gives the reader the impression that Wes is still a ‘young’ sheriff and that he ‘has a lot to learn’.

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