Character in Montana 1948

1 January 2017

An important character in Montana 1948 is Wesley Hayden. He is introduced as a weak and oblivious character, who lives under the shadow of his brother Frank. Throughout the story, it is shown that Wesley is a lawyer who was coerced into being a sheriff due to the pressure put on him by his overpowering father. In this essay I will explore why Wesley Hayden is an important character in the novel Montana 1948 by Larry Watson. He is used to illustrate the theme of loyalty vs. justice, he grows the most as a person in the novel and he has to cope with making difficult decisions so the reader will empathise with him.

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Firstly, Wesley is used to illustrate the themes of the novel. His character helps the author maintain a constant underlying theme of loyalty vs. justice. Without Wesley in the story, Julian would have concealed Frank’s secret of sexually assaulting women of Indian decent and no one would have realised this, so Frank would continue to go unpunished. An example of Wesley Hayden helping portray the theme of loyalty vs. justice is when he says “He will be dealt with in the hereafter” when discussing Frank’s punishment, while talking to Gail.

When he says this, he is fighting an inner conflict with himself as he doesn’t know whether to do what is morally correct, by punishing Frank, or remain loyal to Frank as he is Wesley’s own brother. Secondly, Wesley Hayden grows the most as a person throughout the novel. At first he is portrayed as an average man, who isn’t very interesting or adventurous as seen through the eyes of his son, David. When Frank is found to be a rapist, Wes then transforms into a deep and critical thinker, who investigates the situation and does the right thing in the end as he knows that he must be fair and unbiased towards the crimes that Frank had committed.

Through the situation around him, Wesley Hayden becomes almost a different man because he grows as a person and sees that he must step up and take action otherwise nothing will be done to stop Frank. Thirdly, Wesley Hayden is important in the novel because he has to cope with making difficult decisions. Wesley has the responsibility of bringing his own brother to justice and by doing so, disowning his family and destroying the reputable “Hayden” family name. Wesley’s decision leads to Frank committing suicide.

This event brought Wesley’s son David peace, but beyond doubt destroyed Wesley on the inside as he carries the burden of his brother’s death for the remainder of his life. This guilt forms into cancer and ultimately kills Wesley. An example of how Wesley copes with his decision is when he has to face his intimidating father and he says “My God… Stop this before I have to”, to which Wes replies with “This isn’t for any of us to stop or start. This has to go its own way. ” This shows that Wes has made his decision and although wants to please his father, knows that he must do what is right.

Although he makes a difficult decision and chooses the correct path by arresting his brother, Wesley Hayden will be constantly analysing and possibly regretting his own decision. In conclusion, Wesley is a character of utmost importance to the plotline of Montana 1948, as he ends up doing the right thing and growing as a person because of it. This gives the reader an important message that doing the right thing will not always be easy. In the end, Wesley is an underdog who turns out to become a hero of a man.

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