Larry Watson’s novel ‘Montana 1948’ is told from the perspective of narrator David Hayden, recalling the experiences of his 12 year old self. The observations he witnesses and describes reflects the choices that are made by the adult characters of the novel. Not only changing himself but also changing the situations and environment around the small town of Bentrock.
David’s uncle Frank played a major role in this novel displaying his selfish and egotistical choices. Along with these self-centered decisions, Wesley, was torn between protecting his family and obeying the law.
These choices heavily influenced David’s own decisions therefore using his knowledge respectively. However, not everyone’s decisions and choices were used. Gail the main woman figure in the novel had her choices declined and disregarded due to the fact that she is a woman. These decisions and choices that were made by frank greatly influenced on the whole of the family. David’s uncle, Frank Hayden is a highly confident, ignorant and narcissistic doctor who is clearly only interested in his own priorities, status and position in the community.
His choices that are presented throughout the novel do heavily influence the entire family’s decisions. Which do shape the future events for the family. Frank has had a long line of being the favourite sibling between the two brothers (Wesley and Frank) due to this his father, Julian is fully aware of the fact that Frank is engaging in adult behaviours with Indian women, this had started in his early teens. Such things as these are explained when Marie stated that “When he examines an Indian he…he does things he shouldn’t.
He takes liberties. Indecent Liberties. ” This statement explains how the American Indians in particular, Marie feels about frank and his methods while examining Indian women. The choices that frank made were extremely significant on the opinions and future decision that were made throughout the rest of the story. Franks actions and choices caused conflict and distress within the Hayden family, causing rifts and a divide in the family. His choices changed the views of Wesley and his choices.
Wesley, the strong, respected father and sheriff of Bentrock is torn between the decisions of protecting his family from the harsh truth and unpleasant situations of Bentrock, Montana and enforcing the law and his duties as sheriff. Due to Franks immoral acts, Wesley is forced to decide Franks fate, whether he is to be locked up in prison because of his misconducts or, to have his crimes forgotten about to protect the Hayden name. Throughout the novel, Wesley is under a lot of stress and pressure to make the right decision.
He is unsure and confused although he finally does stand up to his father and think for himself, as he was heavily influenced by Julian’s actions and wishes. Because of Wesley’s choice to lock frank up in the basement of their home, frank tries to convince Julian what frank has really done. Julian little respect for what Wesley has done to find out the truth nor will he ever have faith or belief in Wes because frank is the more favourite sibling. This is represented in the statement “you-Investigating” how through these two words displays how little respect Julian has for Wesley.
The choices that were made my both Frank and Wesley affect the knowledge and the information that David has gained, influencing his choices. David, the innocent and extremely influential child of the Hayden family, uses his incorruptibility to his advantage. As David is the youngest character featured in the novel, he is shown as the innocent and unknowing character. David observes the on-goings of the family including, their discussions, ideas and opinions and uses his knowledge to for his own advantages.
David’s decision to over-hear the conversations of the adult characters shows his curiosity and slyness, towards the situation. Throughout the novel, David displayed only a few decisions, including the fact that although insignificant, David did tell Wesley about Frank breaking into the house and murdering Marie. As David was unaware of the consequences of the actions Frank committed, David was shocked and slightly scared of what might happen to him as David idolised frank, even more than his own father. David’s innocence is shown when repeating what he says to his father “Uncle Frank.
Uncle Frank was here. ”, this statement shows how he had chosen to keep the fact that frank had gotten into the house, displaying David’s anxious behaviours. As shown all of the male characters have chosen to lie and use their knowledge to use, although Gail seems to be the only character who choices were disregarded but also the right ones to make. Gail Hayden, the dominant female figure in the novel, discovers choices and decisions that would benefit the future events or situations, although they were all declined.
Gail Is the mother of David and wife of Wesley. This meaning that she is written to be contrasting the rest of the characters. This means that because she is a female, her decisions and choices that she may or may not have made were in fact the correct choices but were declined. Gail, throughout the novel, chose to uncover the terrible secrets of frank, and what he does with Indian women. Gail tries to confess his immoral actions to Wesley, the sheriff and brother of frank.
Although these accusations made by Gail were true although as mentioned, all of Gail’s choices like to tell Wesley about frank shows how others do not have respect for her, therefore everything that she believed was contradicted. Although Gail was one of the main characters of the novel, all of these decisions were made inferior by the entire Hayden Family. Gail had given up trying to convey her opinions and choices because of the Hayden family, who all made personal and non-personal choices.
Larry Watson’s novel, throughout the entire story every character made at least one important decision as these problems unravelled as the story progresses. Even if the choices were life threatening or dangerous to the rest of the family, all of the characters made a choice. If it was a choice to continue a lifelong lie, such as Frank. The choice to protect your family from dangerous situations. The decision to tell the truth to as higher authority. Or even if your opinions and choices were disregarded and ignored. The characters in the novel “Montana 1948” all displayed choices which made up the basis of the story.