In this review I will talk about several different things about the book “Montana 1948”. To begin, I will talk about the social issue of Racism. After talking about racism, I will summarize the novel, and compare myself to a character in the book. Lastly I will talk about an intriguing moment in the book as well as giving my opinion on the book.
There are many different examples of racism in this novel. To begin with the term racism is defined as: “Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race.” An example of this in the book is Wesley saying that Maria could be lying about Frank since she was Indian. “My father didn’t say anything, but I knew what he was thinking: She’s an Indian—why would she tell the truth?” (pg. 34) Wesley isn’t the only one who discriminates against the Indians, his brother Frank is as well. “Frank said maybe he’d do a little dance around the bed. And if that doesn’t work he’ll try beating on some drums.” In conclusion both Wesley and Frank show racism toward Indians.
This story is told from the point of view of a young boy, David, in 1948 who opens with Maria, who is the Indian housekeeper for the Hayden family, being really sick. Yet Maria doesn’t want to be alone with Mercer County’s local doctor Frank, David’s uncle, because she believes that he molests the Indian girls. Hearing the allegations against his brother Wesley, David’s father, goes to the nearby Indian reservation to investigate the accusations. After hearing from trusted Indians Wesley ends up believing that his brother really was guilty.
In the middle of finding out about Frank the family suffers a terrible lose when Maria passes away, yet David doesn’t believe that Maria’s passing was from her illness. David believes this because he saw his Uncle Frank leaving the house just a few hours before Maria died when no one was home and then sneaking out the back. Hearing enough Wesley arrests Frank, but instead of taking him to the local jail Wes locks Frank, who was willingly going with his brother, in the basement until he can be moved. Hearing of this Julian, Wes and Frank’s father who also used to be the sheriff, sent some of his ranch workers to get Frank out of the basement. Gale, David’s mother, sent David to try and find Wes to stop the three men who were trespassing in their yard. After running all over town David runs home as fast as he can when he hears a gunshot go off. When David gets home he sees that his mother had only fired a warning shot to the men who continued to get closer. Just when the men were about to break in Len, the neighbor and also sheriff’s deputy, hops through the bushes with a gun and forces the men to leave.
That night David woke up to the sound of smashing glass. When he went down stairs to examine he found his parents were also awoken by the sound of Frank in the basement smashing all jars of preserved fruits and vegetables they were storing in the basement; David was then sent back to bed. When David woke in the morning he went downstairs and found his dad who said that he was transferring Frank that day but when he went down stairs Frank had cut himself and bled out.
After about a year the family decides that it is time to move on from Mercer County. Then David grows up to be a teacher who gets married to another teacher. Finally one night David tells his wife the story about what had happened in 1948. Later, David and his wife go to David’s Parents house one night for dinner. Rehearing the story of 1948, Wesley slams his fist on the table and all he says is “Don’t blame Montana.”
Authors make characters relatable so that the reader can feel more like a part of the story. I will compare and contrast myself with David. First off David, who knew more than his parents thought he did, was a bit nosey. For example he spies on his dad and uncle when they are at the grandparents’ cabin. I also believe that I am a bit nosey. I like to know what is going on with the people around me, which I don’t see as a bad thing. On the other hand David reads into more situations than I do. When David is going to the store he looks at all the women that are there and thinks what he might have done to them .I don’t read too much into situations like David does. Most likely the information I hear won’t change my opinion on anybody but the person in the statement. As you can see, David and I are similar in the sense that we are both nosey but, we are different in the way we read into the situation.
Authors write twist into their books so that they could keep the reader’s attention. One of the biggest moments that intrigued me was the fact that Frank molested the Indian woman. . “Your brother makes his patients—some of his patients—undress completely and get into indecent positions he makes them jump up and down while he watches…” (pg. 36) As I was reading this I literally gasped for air. I believed that the story was going to be a murder story not a story about a molester doctor. Another moment that grabbed my attention was the fact that the Grandfather, Frank’s Father, knew about the molestations and how he had done it when he was younger. “He couldn’t have been any older than Davy when Bud caught him down in the stable with that little Indian Girl. Bud said to me ‘Mr. Hayden, you better have a talk with that boy. He had that little squaw down on her hands and knees. He’s been learnin’ from watching the dogs and the horses and the bulls.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some young ones out on the reservation who look a lot like your brother.” (pg. 63) The Grandfather had always held Frank so high up that I would have never thought that he would know anything about the Indian Women. In final analysis, a really intriguing moment is when you find out that Frank molested the woman, and when you find out that the Grandfather had known about it.
An Author may write a book for many different reasons. To begin with Larry Watson may have written this book to show the issues of racism. I believe that setting the story in a close small town shows that a tightknit community will likely share the same opinions as one another. I believe that because Frank was a well-known doctor around town it would have been hard for anyone to believe that he would molest the women. Especially since the person to bring up these allegations was Indian. All in all I truly enjoyed Montana 1948. It was a book that kept your attention and had twists and turns threw out the entire book. Also, the plot was very good and the characters were well developed. Montana 1948 is a great book that would definitely be recommended.
In conclusion racism was definitely a major factor in the book, I am like David in the sense that I am nosey, a surprising moment was the fact that father had known about the Frank’s past. All in all Montana 1948 was a very interesting book.